Scott Flip-Flops On Medicaid

I mentioned yesterday that Florida Gov. Rick Scott, after years as a font of anti-Obamacare posturing, had suddenly gotten “cagey” about the fate of ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Later in the day, Scott held a hastily called press conference and announced that he was, indeed, going to support the expansion. Not coincidentally, the Obama administration announced at about the same time that it was granting Florida a waiver to expand a Medicaid managed care pilot program statewide.

While Scott mentioned the recent death of his mother as having changed his perspective on “big decisions,” and also said his support for the expansion would only extend (for now) to the three-year period where the feds will pick of 100% of the cost, his flip-flop is going to be widely intepreted as motivated by his interest in getting re-elected. That was certainly the take by RedState’s Erick Erickson, who called it “a sad day for conservatives.”

Americans for Prosperity took a slightly different route, calling on Florida’s Republican legislative leaders to buck Scott and reject the expansion. I can’t quite see them letting Rick Scott, of all people, triangulate them on an issue where Republicans generally are swimming upstream. But you never know with these birds.

The “privatization” deal Scott got from HHS is worth watching, since Florida’s management of a regional pilot project has been spotty to say the least. But nationally, the horse left the barn a long time ago on the general proposition of enrollment of Medicaid beneficiaries in private managed-care plans. As of 2010, an estimated 70% of those on Medicaid around the country were in such plans. And managed care companies have been prominent among those lobbying both Congress and the states for the Medicaid expansion.

Rick Scott has a long way to go before he’s a viable candidate for revelation. But about a million Floridians who will be covered by the Medicaid expansion (if it’s not torpedoed by the legislature) are happy to have been able to serve as props in his first dramatic step towards political recovery.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.