Christie joins GOP governors in accepting Obama's Medicaid expansion
February 26th, 2013
02:52 PM ET
9 years ago

Christie joins GOP governors in accepting Obama's Medicaid expansion

(CNN) – The expansion of Medicaid included in President Barack Obama's sweeping health care law was accepted by an eighth Republican governor Tuesday, despite the GOP's fierce opposition to the law as a whole.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, explaining he was aiming to put "people first," announced his support for the expansion of Medicaid as he outlined his budget in front of the New Jersey state legislature.

He becomes the eighth GOP governor to sign on to the plan, which has also been rejected by some high-profile state chief executives still at odds with the politically charged law known as Obamacare. Many Republicans view parts of the bill, including its individual requirement to obtain health insurance, as government overreach.

Christie himself remains opposed to the law, he said Tuesday, but explained to skeptics that refusing the federal dollars would put other states ahead of his own.

"I am no fan of the Affordable Care Act," Christie said. "I think it's wrong for New Jersey and wrong for America. I fought against it, and believe in the long run it will not achieve what it promises. However, it is now the law of the land."

"Let me be clear: Refusing these federal dollars wouldn't mean they would not be spent," he continued. "It just means they would be spent to expand health care access in New York, or Connecticut, or Ohio, or somewhere else."

In total, Christie said accepting the Medicaid expansion would save taxpayers in his state $227 million.

The total bill for the Medicaid expansion will be picked up by the federal government for the first three years. After that, federal funding will phase down to 90%, with the remainder covered by states. The program covers all adults with annual incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level, which in 2012 was $30,675 for a family of four.

Christie joins Rick Scott of Florida, Rick Snyder of Michigan, John Kasich of Ohio, Jan Brewer of Arizona, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, and Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota in endorsing the Medicaid expansion. So far, 19 states and the District of Columbia have indicated they will accept the federal funds.

Other Republican governors, including some who are considered potential 2016 presidential candidates, have rejected all or parts of the measure, including Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, Bob McDonnell in Virginia, and Rick Perry in Texas. At least 10 states have so far said no.

The Supreme Court last summer upheld the individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion, though it allowed states to choose whether to participate in the expansion program. It could reduce the number of uninsured adults by more than 11 million by 2019, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation estimate.

States are also permitted under the ruling to opt out of health insurance exchanges. Christie, along with many of the Republican governors who have accepted the Medicaid expansion, has rejected the exchanges, though he hasn't ruled out setting them up in the future.

Christie's acceptance of the Medicaid expansion comes after an extended falling-out with the most conservative members of his party, who were angered after Christie heaped praise on Obama in the aftermath Superstorm Sandy. The storm swept through New Jersey and other Northeastern states days before last November's election.

Later, Christie publically blasted Republican lawmakers for stalling passage of emergency funds for Sandy victims.

On Monday, a source close to the Conservative Political Action Conference said Christie wasn't invited to speak at the annual confab this year, further fueling the impression he's suffering backlash from the right wing of the GOP.

While New Jersey voters overwhelmingly vote Democratic in presidential elections, Christie has enjoyed a high approval rating among his constituents in recent polls. He's up for re-election in November.

CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: Chris Christie • Medicaid • New Jersey
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Boo

    I knew Christie could cave...just like the rest of them...

    February 26, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  2. Randy, San Francisco

    There will be push back by Tea Partiers and extreme conservatives against Gov Christie. The door is wide open for Gov Christie to switch parties and join the Democrats.

    February 26, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. Searcher

    Another attempt by Christie to show some SANITY! What is up with CNN's comment policy. The shut off comments after 11 minutes on an article posted today? Were they afraid to mess with Texas?

    February 26, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. PaulCat

    If you live in Louisiana, just wait awhile. As soon as Jindal find which butt to kiss, he'll change his mind.

    February 26, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  5. Donna

    Christie is doing what he feels he must do to get re-elected. Unfortunately the federal government has a long history of not paying for what it says it will pay for, and sticking the states with the bill. And with the federal government running a trillion dollar deficit from now until forever, I doubt that 90% figure will hold. It will likely be more like 50% and the people of NJ will be on the hook for millions if not billions. Suckers.

    February 26, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  6. Wake up People!

    Christy dude, what are you doing??? Did you learn absolutely nothing the last time?? You know good and well you don't like or even respect the democrats, you are a republican through and through. Do you not know this is your final nail in your political coffin?? They are going to put you on a spit with an apple in your mouth....... I'm truly beginning to respect you.

    But the RWNJ's are going to rip you a new one.....
    I'll NEVER vote for you but I am developing a minute amount of respect for you.

    February 26, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Christie said to himself, "Those guys can crash and burn by themselves. No, thank-you. They're not taking me with them. I'm scared of those kind of heights, man. Just looking at the Palisades makes me dizzy."

    February 26, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. MaryM

    Thank you Gov Christie. Republicans are committing political suicide not including Gov Christie in CPAC. Then again, maybe Christie does not want to be associated with the clowns speaking at CPAC

    February 26, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  9. Name lynn

    Christy boo-boo thats what you look an sound like.

    February 26, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  10. much thunder.little rain

    smart man..the next president ?

    February 26, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  11. Al-NY,NY

    Other Republican governors, including some who are considered potential 2016 presidential candidates, have rejected all or parts of the measure, including Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, Bob McDonnell in Virginia, and Rick Perry in Texas.

    Bobby Jindal-no/Bob McDonnell–no/Rick Perry-sorry, I just got up from the floor I was laughing so hard......NO NO NOT EVER

    February 26, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  12. Chris

    I did not like Christy at first. Thought he was a big mouth. My opinion has changed, this guy really cares about the people in New Jersey and is a down to earth guy. Other Repugs /Tea Party yo yo's could learn from this guy.

    February 26, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  13. just sayin

    cbo projects obamacare will result in 7 million people being dropped from medical coverage by their employers. when this amount doubles, neither the feds not the state will be able to afford to pay for or subsidize all these people.

    medicaid was already a bad system that needed to be overhauled. now they are going to put millions more into it. this is all fine and wonderful but what doctors are going to treat all these people for the peanuts the government will be paying? none.

    the democrats are destroying the healthcare system just like they are destroying the economy and this country.

    February 26, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  14. JustAO

    Sometimes the GOP has to realize that history is never on their side when it comes to any policy these days so why keep obstructing or arguing their case.

    February 26, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  15. 1608®

    Jindal next week .. He just wants the spot light.

    February 26, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  16. emskadittle

    i guess he really doesn't want the gop nomination, maybe they will try newt again

    February 26, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  17. Rick McDaniel we see the truth.......those who couldn't afford to pay for the health care mandate, simply get transferred to Medicaid, and the government pays for them, out of our tax dollars, as usual.

    The middle class pays the burden of their own families, PLUS they have to pay for the poor as well. To make that work, they have to have a MAJOR EXPANSION of Medicaid, and transfer people to that welfare system, that didn't previously qualify.

    So much for fairness in America. It does NOT exist.

    February 26, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  18. kayla

    finally somebody from the repugs with bolas

    February 26, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  19. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    The only member of the gop with any class ,all the rest can self deport ,gop garbage !!!!

    February 26, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    Dude has practically bathed himself in lipstick.

    February 26, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. T

    .......If the IDIOT gop has ANY BRAINS AT ALL....they will nominate this guy............OR INEVITABLY LOSE ANOTHER 12 YEARS.....................

    February 26, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  22. bcrunner

    Wait!! I thought that was socialism!! Those damn Republican SOCIALISTS!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 26, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  23. The Real Tom Paine

    "The middle class pays the burden of their own families, PLUS they have to pay for the poor as well. "

    You forgot to mention the wealthy, who have benefited from expanding incomes at our expense for over 3 decades, Ricky. As usual, you omit that crucial point.

    February 26, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Rick McDaniel we see the truth.......those who couldn't afford to pay for the health care mandate, simply get transferred to Medicaid, and the government pays for them, out of our tax dollars, as usual.
    Are you familiar with the reasons why Medicare was originally created? It was created because insurers would drop people once they turned 65. Seniors couldn't buy any insurance from anybody. So, the federal government picked up the tab for what the highly touted private sector refused to take responsibility for, our own seniors.

    Obamacare says that insurers can no longer drop people once they turn 65. Do the math. This means there will be fewer and fewer people will be enrolling in Medicare. New enrollment because of people can no longer find insurance will shrink to the point where it will be non-existent. Seniors make up most of the expenditures when it comes health insurance. Most of the new enrollees who would be picked up will be a younger, HEALTHIER, demographic. Cost of coverage for the government decreases. Simple math.

    February 26, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  25. Donna

    Christie proved to his party he wasn't a team player and damaged his party and country both. You do not win the Whitehouse as a one man team. You cannot spit on the team and then expect them to embrace you. Christie might as well run as a Democrat because he will not get much support from Republicans.

    February 26, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
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