Colorado gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton says the largest drivers of Colorado’s “indebtedness” are “out-of-control Medicaid expansion,” which provides health insurance for low-income residents, and the state’s responsibilities under Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA).
“We’ve expanded Medicaid by 600,000 people in Colorado, and we don’t have the first idea how to pay for it from a state budget level,” Stapleton told KNUS radio host Dan Caplis Jan. 30.
In fact, unlike the federal government, Colorado is required to balance its budget each year and is not in debt.
As journalists have repeatedly tried to point out, over 90 percent of the Medicaid expansion is paid for by the federal government, and the remainder is covered by the Hospital Provider Fee. So Colorado’s general-fund budget doesn’t contribute at all to the Medicaid expansion and therefore the program, initiated under Obamacare, isn’t a state budget burden.
So Stapleton’s assertion that Colorado doesn’t have “the first idea how to pay” for the Medicaid expansion is not based on the facts as we know them.
And, conversely, nothing would be saved in Colorado’s general fund budget by cutting Obama’s Medicaid expansion. As Hickenlooper’s budget director told The Denver Post last year,“We could cancel the expansion, and we wouldn’t save a dollar in the general fund.”
With respect to PERA, lawmakers are working on a plan to address the program’s projected budget shortfalls. No one involved has said lawmakers are clueless about how to stabilize PERA. There are disagreements, of course, but they’ve been worked out before.
Stapleton’s campaign did not return an email seeking his side of the story–and to know how he’d cut Medicaid, if it’s out-of-control, at the state level, and if he’d support repealing Obamacare nationally, as congressional Republicans tried to do repeatedly last year.
Listen to Stapleton here: