Prez and Gov’s Talk Homeland Security And Medicaid Funding

Washington – Monday President  Barack  Obama spoke to states governors about the looming shutdown of Homeland Security by Congress and projected Medicaid funding losses. The President warned state governors that the  Homeland Security shutdown could have a direct impact on local economies, casting it as the latest of the “manufactured crises and self inflicted wounds” bogging down Congress.

“Unless Congress acts, one week from now, more than 100,000 DHS employees, border patrol, port inspectors, TSA agents, will show up to work without getting paid,” said Obama during a White House speech to the National Governors Association.

At present The White House is ramping up its warnings with Congress facing a Friday deadline to fund the Department of Homeland Security before the department’s funding is gone.

Republicans want to use a funding bill as a vehicle to halt the president’s recent immigration executive actions, but Democrats aren’t backing that proposal and instead calling for a clean funding bill.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that a Department of Homeland Security shutdown might be in sight, as he’s not confident that Congress will pass a funding bill before the Friday deadline.

Also part of the conversation the president highlighted the bipartisan group of governors that agreed to extend Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Billions of dollars of Medicaid funding is tied to the Affordable Care Act and unless your state is willing to work with the White House they could be in serious financial trouble.

The president told the governors attending today’s meetings that by not working with the White House they could be putting their states poor at risk.

“If your state isn’t one of the 28 that’s expanded Medicaid, I’d urge you to consider it because our team is prepared to work with you to make it happen,” Obama said. “Because some of you may not always agree with my approach or policies, I think we can all agree that it’s a good thing when a family doesn’t lose a home just because a member of that family gets sick.”

Meanwhile, back on the Healthcare front The New York Times reports that some states are working hard to put something into place to deal with the White House while trying to save face with local legislators.

According to the Kaiser Foundation (click here) here is a list of how each state stands on the Medicaid Expansion issue.

Of the 28 states on board with Medicaid Expansion, there are 10 states with Republican governors whose initial opposition gave way to pressure from voters, hospitals and patient advocates to grab the federal Medicaid dollars and the new jobs that come with it.

There are a few high profile conservatives on that list of 10 including Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie , and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. These 10 governors have reluctantly embraced a key pillar of the Affordable Care Act, knowing the Medicaid plan could tarnish their conservative “street cred” with large swaths of GOP voters and opinion makers.

So why did the 10 GOP state leaders sign on to the Medicaid Expansion deal with the White House? One simple word – M-O-N-E-Y. They do not want their residents to left out in the cold without health care and it might be bad politics now, but perhaps not in the long run.

In Florida, business leaders and hospital executives are pressuring Gov. Rick Scott and conservative legislative leaders to consider alternative expansion plans in the session that starts next month. And in Alaska, the new governor, Bill Walker, an independent, wants to persuade state lawmakers to agree to expand Medicaid by the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

Meanwhile, in Idaho, an alternative Medicaid expansion plan, put forth by a task force appointed by Gov. C. L. Otter may go before the Legislature in the next few months.

For the record Medicaid expansion has been a contentious issue since it was first announced as part of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Florida Democrats and some Senate Republicans have said the state should go ahead and accept an estimated $51 billion in funds the White House is offering in federal money to expand the program, which provides health insurance for the poor.  It is an issue that the vast majority of the state’s business associations and healthcare providers agree with by a very vocal majority.

But the conservative Florida House has blocked Medicaid expansion for the past two years. Some Republican representatives are philosophically opposed to accepting the federal funds because it would grow the national debt. Others have argued that the federal health insurance program is too broken to expand, and Florida ought to come up with its own, more sustainable plan. At present no plan is being explored or even talked about by lawmakers.

While the legislature continues to battle in Tallahassee, an estimated 800,000 to 1million Floridians remain uncovered by insurance.



Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.