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The Stickiness of the Medicaid Expansion


Ygelsias has a good round-up of the election results from Tuesday. This is one outcome that will get relatively less attention but is worth noting:

Incumbent Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson holding off a primary challenge from a former television journalist most famous for establishing her gun range as a “Muslim-free zone” is not the most unexpected outcome in the world.

But in a world where Donald Trump and Roy Moore can win primaries, it at least wasn’t totally obvious that Jan Morgan couldn’t beat Hutchinson.

That’s especially because there was a bona fide policy disagreement between them in which Hutchinson was genuinely more moderate than the vast majority of the national GOP establishment — on Medicaid expansion. Hutchinson’s Democratic predecessor, Mike Beebe, made Arkansas one of the reddest states to accept the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, and though Hutchinson has used waivers to shift the program in a more conservative direction, he also fought affirmatively to keep the expansion.

His victory helps cement the idea that expansion states don’t un-expand, and that pushing for expansion is smart politics for governors — even Republican governors in very red states.

Good Democratic policy that provides important benefits to people may not benefit the Democratic Party, and in Arkansas it hasn’t at either the state or federal level. But the policies themselves tend to be sticky, and that’s important in itself! And while universal programs in some cases are more desirable on policy grounds, it’s simply not true that programs that predominantly help the non-affluent are never popular or robust.

In related news, here’s a good piece on the people who will be helped by the pending Medicaid expansion in Virginia.

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