Another Republican governor has found a way to accept millions of dollars in federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage without calling it Obamacare. On Thursday morning, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence announced a plan that's expected to cover at least 350,000 more people using a state program. The plan still has to be approved, but this is a good thing to have on your resume if you're thinking of maybe running for president in 2016.
Like a lot of red state Medicaid alternatives, Pence's plan requires more cost sharing from enrollees. As Jason Millman at The Washington Post explains, those earning under the poverty level have the option of paying a small monthly premium, or being dropped to a basic level of coverage. Those above the poverty level have a pay or premium, or they'll be dropped from the program (the full plan is available here).
This is a win for everyone. Every time a Republican governor follows in Arkansas's footsteps with a conservative alternative, is makes a better case for Medicaid-friendly officials in other states like Texas and Florida. And — assuming the Obama administration approves the proposal — low income Indiana residents will finally have access to low cost health insurance.
And that's helpful if you want to be the president. Pence's name has been thrown around for a while now as a contender. In September, The Daily Caller called him a possible dark horse candidate, "more charismatic than Scott Walker, more conservative than Chris Christie." The Fiscal Times repeated the dark horse speculation this week, and The Post reported earlier this month that Pence is "listening" to Republicans trying to woo him to run. Now, Pence can keep his fiscal conservative street cred without having explain why he doesn't want people to have federally funded insurance.