Why a Libertarian candidate supports Medicaid expansion

The national Libertarian party has put its opposition to the Affordable Care Act at the center of its platform for more limited government. Andrew Hunt, the party's local candidate for governor, takes a different tack.

Hunt has raised eyebrows by joining Democrat Jason Carter in advocating for Medicaid expansion, a position that strikes a contrast with the national party's platform.

That support has become a point of contention between Hunt and Gov. Nathan Deal, who questions how he can reconcile his stance with the party's views. On Tuesday, Hunt explained his stance on Medicaid expansion to AJC colleague Nicholas Fouriezos.

“Georgia is a net negative on receiving money back from what it pays into the federal government,” Hunt said. “That hurts our economy. Until we can end Obamacare – because we shouldn’t have such federal programs – we need to get our money back.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would pay all expansion costs for the first three years and then switch to a 90-10 percent split with each state. Deal rejected expansion, saying it would be too expensive – his office estimated it would cost $2.5 billion over 10 years, though others say the true price tag would be closer to $350 million.

Hunt says he wouldn’t settle for the expansion plan originally offered by the Affordable Care Act.

Instead, he would advocate for an alternate expansion proposal, similar to what has been done in Iowa, New Hampshire and Arkansas. Carter supports a similar policy. Those states were allowed to use ACA funding to help eligible low-income residents purchase private health coverage, rather than joining Medicaid.

Hunt called Deal’s criticisms hypocritical, considering the incumbent governor’s acceptance of other federal funds for the Savannah dredging project and expensive road projects.

The governor has said he views Medicaid expansion differently because it's an ongoing cost to Georgia taxpayers, instead of a one-time infusion of federal dollars for infrastructure.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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