02/14/2013 10:34 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

15 Billion Reasons for Chris Christie to Expand Medicaid

Gov. Chris Christie has a big decision to make, and he should make it soon: Will New Jersey join 18 other states and expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), providing decent health care to over 300,000 struggling adults and stimulating the state's economy with more than $15 billion in estimated federal funds over nine years? Or will the governor side with Republican governors in states like Alabama and South Carolina, denying very poor New Jerseyans health care and sending tax dollars and job opportunities to states that choose to participate? Our new report only adds to the air-tight case to expand Medicaid.

Last year, "Obamacare" was a bitterly partisan issue. But some Republicans are softening their opposition.

In fact, one of the most conservative governors in the nation, Jan Brewer of Arizona, recently joined what's now five other Republican governors in accepting the Medicaid expansion. Her reason: "[It] boosts Arizona's competitiveness and allows the state to save or create thousands of jobs." Another fierce conservative, Ohio's John Kasich, is expanding Medicaid because "it makes great sense ... because it will allow us to provide greater care with our own dollars."

Medicaid expansion enjoys very strong support in New Jersey. A January poll by the American Cancer Society found that 70 percent of New Jersey respondents favor expansion, while only 21 percent oppose it. Both houses of the New Jersey legislature have passed a resolution supporting expansion; but the ball remains in the governor's court.

Gov. Christie should act quickly to expand Medicaid in New Jersey. After all, he has 15 billion reasons to do so, and then some.