Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Gambling Tied to Medicaid -- Democrats Refuse To Go Along


NCSenate Minority Leader
Dan Blue

The rank politics that Senate leader Phil Berger is trying to pull to get casino gambling seems for the moment to have united the Democrats against him. The ploy to bind up gambling with Medicaid expansion, in a bid to get Democrats to vote for what House Republicans hate, has not won over Senate Democrats. According to reporting by WRAL, all 20 Democrats in the Senate signed a letter vowing to vote against any legislative attempt to tie gambling to Medicaid. Also 40 of the 48 Democrats in the House also signed a similar letter blasting Republicans for "cynically using health care as a political bargaining chip" to get casinos — "but also indicated they could come around if Republicans were willing to now include them in budget negotiations."

The Democrats' letter sounded more hardcore and contained this brutal analysis of Berger's brazenness: "It's straining the imagination to conjure a scenario where 11 million people would be held hostage for the bidding of a Maryland casino developer, but that's where we are today."

But ... uh-oh to the House Democrats who "indicated they could come around" (and what about those eight who didn't sign the pledge?). Any time Democrats signal that they just want to get along, they tend to get steamrolled. Caving sometimes seems to be their favorite outdoor activity, which the smug and chuckling Republicans call compromise.

"Republicans reneged on the original Medicaid deal, and coupling this suspicious backroom casino plan with the passage of Medicaid expansion has rightfully outraged many Democratic legislators," Cooper spokesman Jordan Monaghan said. "The Governor has spoken to Sen. Berger, Sen. Blue, and Rep. Reives as recently as today, and shared that there do not appear to be enough Democratic votes to help Republican supermajorities pass their casino deal at this time."

State government continues to be funded under spending levels approved in the previous budget, but the impasse is delaying raises for state workers and billions in new spending for government projects ranging from road repairs to school safety improvements. It's also holding up the implementation of Medicaid expansion, which would provide health insurance to hundreds of thousands of low-income residents.


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