The newest tea party Republican governor, Kentucky's Matt Bevin, will soon be on the Koch brothers' naughty list and possibly top their list for a primary challenge. That's because, now that he's governor, he's talking about "transforming" the state's expanded Medicaid program under Obamacare instead of repealing it.
"We are going to transform the way Medicaid is delivered in Kentucky and this transformation I think will be a model to the nation," Bevin said at a press conference Wednesday.
By continuing Medicaid's expansion under Obamacare, Bevin will join a long line of GOP governors who have railed against the program but eventually come around to supporting it. The pattern is well-established and often includes negotiating with the federal government a special carve-out for a state-specific version of the program, a way to save political face by not seeming to have caved and become an Obamacare supporter.
Bevin said he and U.S. Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell had a "very extensive and substantive conversation" in recent weeks, and that she was "very committed to this."
What "this" is exactly isn't clear at this point other than Bevin wants to make changes "to make people as un-dependent as possible." Now, it could be that Bevin is trying to be sneaky in going about achieving his former goal—abolishing the expansion. He could be cooking up a plan to make people "un-dependent" that would include conditions the Obama administration would never accept. Then he would be able to claim that he tried to preserve the program, but Obama wouldn't let him.
That's of course a possibility, but it doesn't seem likely. He started backing away from full repeal of the program in his campaign when it became clear that nearly two-thirds of Kentuckians support the current Medicaid expansion program in the state. That's probably because something like 400,000 people are on it. If Bevin has a masterplan for doing away with the program, he would have to tread very carefully.