House Committee Gives “Do Pass” Recommendation To Obamacare Medicaid Expansion


Today the ND House Human Services Committee gave, by a 12-1 vote, a “do pass” recommendation to Governor Jack Dalrymple’s request for an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program as requested in the Obamacare law.

The expansion would be a 45% expansion of the already hugely expensive program, adding tens of thousands of new enrollees and allowing the program to serve as a landing pad for many of those who lose their employer-based health insurance as Obamacare is implemented.

The bill to implement the expansion has been watered down a bit, including a sunset provision that would require the legislature to re-authorize the expansion on August 1st, 2017 (which is only as far as the feds have funded it). That gives the state the option of ending the expansion if the feds don’t continue funding, but let’s be serious. Once the expansion is entrenched in law, legislators will come under fire for “cutting benefits” for Medicaid recipients if they try to get rid of it.

And we all know that Republicans almost always cave to those sort of arguments.

The amended version of the bill also requires that Medicaid enrollees be notified that their benefits may be cut if the federal government cuts funding for the program. Which, again, is more about giving Republicans cover to vote for the bill than protecting North Dakotans from this expansion.

I’ll admit, the strong committee vote doesn’t give me a lot of hope that the House will block this expansion despite assurances from legislators earlier this session that it would be killed. Which gets back to leadership. This is the sort of thing that happens when you have a left-of-center governor who sets a left-of-center agenda for the legislature.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • RCND

    RINO’s strike again

    • Goon

      It’s time to Primary the REPUBICS in this state. We need a cleansing.

  • JW

    Everything I know about this is bad, so why do our local politicians think this Medicaid expansion is a good thing? I’m dead serious. Is there an angle I don’t see here? . . . or is this typical politics where right and wrong is clouded by the playground rules in the chambers?

    • JJ

      This continues to be politics as usual According to the states that wish to participate it is a win situation for all the states ” because the Federal Government is paying”. Are we too stupid to realize who pays the Federal Government’s bills. Like did you ever talk to anyone that went to a casino and have them tell you they lost? Everybody wins. Can you honestly look at these big casinos and really believe they were constructed by companies that lost all the time. If Republicans cave on this they won’t have to worry about how many minority groups will vote for them because they will have lost their base.

  • camsaure

    This should be shot down so hard and fast that it would cause Dullrumple to pee his pants. RINO’s be damned.

  • Drain52

    I say let them vote and then we go after every single Republican in the House that votes for it. It’s time we know exactly who the trustworthy ones are (in case anyone still had any doubts) and boot the rest of them out.

  • minotguy

    I am pasting a reply to JW’s question. I am an optometrist in ND and the ACA and expansion of Medicaid is a constant source of discussion in my field as well; from the employer standpoint, that of a provider of medical services AND most importantly that of a tax payer. This copied response was taken from an editorial in the NY Times (according to the poster). This was posted earlier this weekend on an optometric discussion forum. The thread was discussing the implementation of the ACA. MAYBE it’s the reason our ‘republican’ state government is going down the road in this direction.

    I don’t necessarily agree with it, but, like JW, I’m looking for some semblance of rationale…..


    An Editorial in the 2/23/13 edition of the New York Times indicates it is an offer that many states with a vulnerable conservative majority can’t refuse…

    “Too Good a Deal to Pass

    Rick Scott, the Republican governor of Florida, did an about-face this week by agreeing to expand the state’s Medicaid program, a critical element of the Affordable Care Act. Three years ago, while running for governor, Mr. Scott, a former hospital executive, campaigned on his opposition to the health care reform law. Last year, after the Supreme Court ruled that expanding Medicaid was optional, he announced that Florida would not do so.

    Now he is being vilified by many conservatives, but he changed his mind for very compelling reasons. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of caring for newly eligible enrollees for the first three years, and it will continue to pay no less than 90 percent of the cost in subsequent years. Mr. Scott says Florida’s expansion would end after three years and would have to be renewed if the state wanted to continue. Dropping out would be utterly foolish. By spending $3 billion over the next 10 years, Florida stands to gain $26 billion in federal Medicaid money, some estimates indicate.

    The Medicaid expansion to cover millions more poor people should be embraced by every state. Republican governors in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota and Ohio have reached the same conclusion as Mr. Scott. As Abby Goodnough and Robert Pear reported in The Times, some were swayed by vigorous lobbying from hospitals burdened with the cost of caring for uninsured poor people; others responded to pleas from religious leaders and business groups. So far, 22 states have said they will expand Medicaid, 11 have not yet decided and 17 have opted out. In many states, including Florida, the legislature has to approve the expansion. Some Republican-dominated legislatures are ideologically opposed to expanding an entitlement or carrying out health reforms in any form. They, too, need to recognize what a good deal this is for their constituents.

    Mr. Scott’s turnabout might also be driven in part by his abysmally low approval ratings, which have hovered in the 30 percent range. Let that be a warning to other elected officials tempted to work against better health care coverage.”

    • camsaure

      If they fall for that crap they need their asses booted out. That is NOT what they were sent to do. And once again, where does the federal money come from? It sure as hell does not fall from the sky like Dullrumple would like to believe and have us believe also..

    • Goon

      The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of caring for newly eligible enrollees for the first three years, and it will continue to pay no less than 90 percent of the cost in subsequent years

      The Federal Government isn’t paying for anything, we are in the form of higher taxes, in other words, more money is going to be stolen from us to pay for this.

  • Perry Schumacher

    This is embarrassing. Republicans schills. The North Dakota was is to take subsidy after subsidy from our federal government and brag about how responsible we are. We are so in dire need of a new generation of leaders. More work to be done in the next election cycle to remove those who put their name in the “yae” column.

  • Patrick R. Pfeiffer

    Conservatives, turn out the lights and close the door behind you.
    A “conservative” midwest state with an overwhelming Republican majority just wants to control the money-lots, and lots of money. Forget that a huge majority of their constitutents sent them to Bismarck to fight and oppose Obamacare.
    So much for Federalism and strong states providing a line of defense against the Federal Government.
    With Republiocans like this, who needs Democrats?
    These SOB’s from the cities to the states to the Fed are addictted to spending OPM and there’s no stopping it until the economy collapses.
    They’re all a disgrace.

  • sbark

    The Fed carrot on a stick works for those that want to act and think like donkeys……..
    Problem is, by the time they realize its a mistake, those politicians are gone (Gov for sure), and by then its a addiction
    Something like this should be passed with a caveat……if it turns out bad (100% chance) there are repurcussions to those that passed it……clause like that would’ve put teeth in the entire Constitutions checks and balances.

  • G Whiz

    keep your powder dry folks… it’s getting damn close time for a coup. Their constitution preamble goes something like this….”We the government, in order to form a more perfect people…”. Belise is looking awful inviting.

  • whowon

    Many of our legislators read Rob’s blog, good point of “we the people” they might not read otherwise. Keep up the good work Rob, our single source.

  • maddog

    Who had the intestinal fortitude to vote NO? He is to be commended.

  • splined

    What ND needs is a few Rick Perry’s! See Jack Dalrymple is no Rick Perry! ND could use many Rick Perry’s on the human services committees as well.

  • Lynn Bergman

    I believe that the Governor must mistake Medicare for Medicaid. After listening to an exprt on the subject the other evening, I was convinced that Medicare (health insurance for the elderly) is well administered and is actually holding costs down. Medicaid, on the other hand, is the elephant in the room. Republicans who vote for this monster deserve their fate in the next election.

    No true conservative would ever vote to extend a program that encourages Americans to smoke, drink alcohol, chew snoose, eat like a pig, do whatever they can to get permanently in a wheelchair.

  • Shadowwalker

    Looks to me like time to start a petition of our own. A true measure of We The People! Time to take our state back if our elected officials won’t serve on our behalf. Maybe we could get some football players to help us……(just a little humor poking fun at how the other side gets it done!) And it is time we get a petition that REQUIRES ID to vote for the sake of all that is good. I can remember college students voting that were not residents of ND back in the ’80’s as common practice. What the heck are we doing. I need to show an ID to purchase pellets for my pellet rifle but not to vote. No wonder we have the idiots that we have representing us. No better than the idiots that keep voting them in. Here’s a novel idea….if you take money in any form from the government (opm) you loose your right to vote until such time as you stop taking OPM for a term of at least 18 months. Just think of how this would change the way people think and vote. Wouldn’t it be grand. You would have to take care of yourself before you could help yourself to that which isn’t yours. Just a thought.

  • Goon

    To the Republicans that voted for this, thanks for ruining our great state. Rob is there a way to post these clowns names so we can all see who they are? Also, Mark Levin referred to our Governor as the Moron from North Dakota or something along those lines on his show yesterday. We need to vote these people out of office, they just screwed this state and now we’re going to be paying through the nose for this leviathan. It’s not free, our country is broke.

    What a bunch of clowns, what a bunch of morons, they’re no better than the democrats that are lead by Harry Reid that are running this country into the ground. What a disgrace.