Governors don't always get what they want from their legislatures, particularly when lawmakers are predominantly from the other political party. Republican governors who want to expand Medicaid aren't getting what they want from lawmakers in their own party.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has been excoriated by Democrats for refusing to accept a Medicaid expansion for which Washington will pay 100 percent for three years and 90 percent thereafter. Supposedly.
The pressure on Fallin to change her mind mounted after Republican governors in several states said they'd break ranks and sign up for the expansion. A funny thing happened on the way to making that happen, however: Republican lawmakers overruled it.
Nine Republican governors broke with the party and decided to “pump some helium into the Obamacare balloon,” as a Wall Street Journal editorial put it. In the most high-profile case (because of the state's size and relative friendliness to Barack Obama), Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he would take the expansion money. But he couldn't convince the GOP-controlled legislature to go along.
Lawmakers apparently buy the argument advanced by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, that expansion supporters “are under the false assumption that the government is going to keep its word.”
Republican governors in three other states — Arizona, Michigan and Ohio — are also having trouble getting the expansion approved. Lawmakers are wary of Washington's promises. Once expanded, the Medicaid rolls will force states to pay more over the long term and possibly raise taxes to pay for it.
As the smoke clears on the expansion prairie fire, as many as half the states will have burst the Obamacare bribe balloon. Oklahoma is forging ahead with a study to find alternatives to expansion, as Arkansas has done. This is temporarily taking the heat off Fallin.
What's happening in other states under Republican control may have given Fallin a lot of breathing room.