Womp: Florida Gov. Scott decides to expand Medicaid

Looks like Florida’s abstention from designing their own health insurance exchange system was not a precursor of things to come, as Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced this afternoon that he’ll be joining the ranks of the other GOP governors in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, and Ohio who have also given in to the federal arm-twisting and signed up for ObamaCare’s proffered Medicaid expansions. Via Bloomberg:

Scott, 60, said at a news conference today in Tallahassee that he would ask the state legislature to back the expansion under Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. …

Scott joins six other Republican governors who have agreed to expand Medicaid, the federal-state health plan for the poor, according to a tally by the Advisory Board Co., a research and consulting company in Washington.

Scott said he supported a “limited” expansion that would last for three years. That’s a reasonable time to judge the expansion, he said.

“Expanding access to Medicaid services for three years is a compassionate, common sense step forward,” Scott said. “It is not a white flag of surrender to government-run health care.”

Er, good luck convincing state and national conservatives that it isn’t a white flag, especially after building a big chunk of your political career on fighting ObamaCare’s implementation tooth and nail. Scott campaigned against the health-care overhaul even before he took office after the 2010 Tea Party wave, and Florida was at the front of the pack of the 26 states that fought it in court. Scott, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry made for an outspoken trifecta on resisting every facet of the law, but Scott started signaling he might defect pretty immediately after his state went for Obama in November — and the Obama administration went in for the kill.

A few days after Obama won reelection, Scott  gave a surprising interview to The Associated Press hinting a softening in his stalwart opposition. Amid unfavorable polls at home, Scott talked about wanting to work with the feds on the health law.

Scott’s Obamacare diplomacy led to a high-profile early January meeting with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, after which both sides expressed a commitment to keep working together. It also became apparent that Scott was trying to win concessions from HHS on how to design the Florida’s Medicaid program. He won approval of two waivers — and the announcement came just hours after the second one.

Scott’s ailing poll numbers + his reelection bid coming up in 2014 = full-on capitulation to Florida’s swingy purplishness. ObamaCare might be all kinds of set up to fail in practice, but it’s doing just fine at breaking down the big-government resistance movement.