WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration on Tuesday issued more than $45 million in new grants to various states for the implementation of the president's health care law -- some of which went to governors hostile both to the White House and the law itself.
The Department of Health and Human Services issued the grants as part of the Money Follows the Person program, a component of the Affordable Care Act that encourages states to transition individuals from nursing homes or a separate institution into community-based programs.
The program is relatively non-political, as grants were awarded to states starting under the second Bush administration. But because its re-authorization is part of President Obama's health care overhaul ($2.5 billion was set aside to extend the program from fiscal year 2011 through 2016), continued implementation has taken on a more serious undertone.
The states that requested (and were granted money) include Florida ($4.2 million), whose governor, Rick Scott, has been an outspoken critique of the president's health care package; Mississippi ($1.3 million), whose governor, Haley Barbour, is a potential 2012 candidate; and Minnesota ($13.4 million), whose former governor, potential presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, has challenged health care's constitutionality.
Because, as an administration official confirmed, solicitations went out in July 2010 and applications came in on Jan. 7, 2011, the context of the funding is different in each state. Scott, for instance, may not have been in office when the request was made, but will nevertheless benefit from the funding. His office did not immediately return a request for comment as to whether or not he will take the money. Pawlently, meanwhile, may not have formally requested the money, though the likelihood remains that he helped with the state's application. An aide to the Minnesota Republican did not immediately return a request for comment.
Barbour was in office when the request was made and remains there to receive the funds. His office, too, did not immediately return a request for comment.
That governors critical of the Affordable Care Act are nevertheless involving themselves in its implementation is, at this point, far from shocking. On other facets of reform, the same dynamic holds true. But with respect to this specific proposal the context is noteworthy. Money Follows the Person is designed to help states alleviate their Medicaid-related budget burdens. It is a conservative approach to long-term health care reform and, as such, it is something that Republican's have championed in the past. Voiding Obama's health care law means voiding provisions like this. That, in turn, puts governors in a tough bind as they balance conservative disgust with the legislation with real budgetary needs.
Below are the states that were rewarded grants on Tuesday:
New Mexico: $595,839
Rhode Island: $2,503,021
West Virginia: $1,267,373