Democrats, GOP spar over Medicaid reform at govs’ meeting

Tensions emerged Saturday between Democratic and Republican U.S. governors over a GOP-led proposal for a major overhaul to Medicaid, with Democrats saying the changes would take away people’s health coverage to finance tax cuts for the wealthy.

GOP governors intend to present Congress with a plan that they say would give states more flexibility to administer health coverage for poorer residents while protecting states from absorbing the costs of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Democratic governors said Saturday that their Republican counterparts were being dishonest about the effects of their plan.

“They want to spend less money on people’s health care so they can do tax cuts for the rich. They’ve tried to put this camouflage on it that somehow they’re giving governors flexibility. We’ve got plenty of flexibility,” Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said. “This is not what we are asking for.”

While major changes to former president Barack Obama’s signature health care law appear inevitable with Republicans controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, Inslee said there’s still a chance that Democrats can win over GOP lawmakers who’ve been facing angry constituents at town hall meetings.

“People are madder than hops about this. Look, there’s four Republican members of the House in the state of Washington, and they’re now in the witness-protection program,” Inslee said. “We think churches are going to offer them sanctuary at some point, given how mad people are about this.”

Inslee, whose national profile is rising as Democrats look for new leaders following Hillary Clinton’s loss in November, led a successful legal challenge against President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

The angry rhetoric about health care reform brought a dose of political reality to the nonpartisan National Governors’ Association’s winter meeting, where governors otherwise spend time praising each other and participating in…

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