Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM)

The Republican Governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, says she plans to have her state expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. From KOAT 7:

Gov. Susana Martinez announced the expansion of the state’s Medicaid system, meaning many New Mexicans could soon have federally funded insurance.

It’s an unusual move for a Republican governor to accept President Barack Obama’s offer to expand Medicaid, but the move means up to 170,000 more New Mexicans could soon have health insurance.

The announcement on Wednesday elicited a standing ovation.

When the Supreme Court declared the Medicaid expansion under the ACA optional the big question was: would any Republican dare reject such a “good deal?” Now that almost half a dozen Republican governors have publicly declared their decision not to take part, the question has instead become: will any Republican governors dare buck the party by accepting it?

Martinez is only the second GOP governor to decide to take part. The other is Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval who announced his intent to expand Medicaid late last year.

While there are some indications that a few of the reluctant GOP governors may decide to expand Medicaid in the future, in the meantime their decisions will cost millions of low income people access to health insurance. In addition, it is going to create a patchwork of coverage across a large section of the country which should make the already problematic implementation of the ACA even more difficult. Fully federalizing the Medicaid program remains the best and easiest way to address this issue.