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Obamacare supporters and protesters gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to find out the ruling on the Affordable Health Act June 28, 2012 in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. California is already ahead of the curve on expanding Medicare. Will the nation follow?
One of the critical elements of the just-released Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," is the piece that gives states the option of saying no to money from the government that would have expanded Medicare coverage. This is from Josh Barro at Bloomberg:
Today’s Supreme Court ruling upheld the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. But it did strike down one part of the law—the provision that withdraws all Medicaid funding from states that do not expand eligibility to all people under age 65 living below 133 percent of the poverty line. States that do not expand eligibility will have to forgo only those federal funds that would have financed the expanded coverage, not all Medicaid funds.
I'm no legal scholar, but the debate over this piece of the law is a fairly straight-up case of federalism versus states' rights, that oldest of American Con Law dustups. Here's how it goes: The law as written would have effectively taken away all Medicaid money that didn't participate in the ACA expansion. That would represent a federal penalty imposed on the states for saying "No thanks" to the extra money.
Gotta love Google Public Data Explorer and it's ability to generate cool charts. I like to keep track of how California is doing economically with respect to our big U.S. rival these days, Texas. So I checked out some data on energy expediture as a share of GDP — how much the U.S., California, and Texas are spending, out of all the money we rake in, on power, propulsion, and so on. You can see a big trend here: our energy expenditure peaked in 1981, declined for a long time, then began to climb back up in the 2000s before falling sharply again after the financial crisis in 2008. But look at where Texas has always been. Well above the national percentage, and waaayyy above the California numbers. I guess you could say that Texas, energy-wise, has always been a lot more expensive to power than either California or the nation as a whole.