Republican Endorses Medicaid Expansion, Wins Special Election

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 18 2013 11:33 AM

Republican Endorses Medicaid Expansion, Wins Special Election

173114339
Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson, above, approves of Vance McAllister.

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The newest member of our beloved House of Representatives will be Vance McAllister, a first-time candidate who surprised everyone and routed state Sen. Neil Riser by double digits in a weekend runoff vote. Both candidates were Republicans, but Riser had the backing of national leaders. McAllister—and this is basically the only detail national reports on the race noticed at first—had the backing of the Duck Dynasty cast. In northeast Louisiana, that matters.*

Arguably more important, as a matter of policy: Riser was a doctrinaire opponent of Obamacare. McAllister pledged to "stop Obamacare," too, but in the final candidate debate, he came out for the Medicaid expansion.

During Friday's debate, he made it clear that because of the high poverty rate in the 5th District -- one of the highest in the country -- he believes the governor should accept the Medicaid expansion. He also criticized Jindal for his push to do away with the state's charity hospital system.
"Our governor and Sen. Riser right here have gutted (heath care) to the core and privatized it," said McAllister, adding, "Before we give handouts, we need to give hand-ups."
Not accepting offers like Medicaid expansion is the wrong choice, McAllister said: "If you're going down the road at 50 mph, you just can't throw it in reverse." 
Advertisement

A Republican came out for the Medicaid expansion—and he won! Does this represent a sea change or a game change or a double down or a [insert cliche] in our politics?

Maybe not. See, Louisiana is one of three states that hold open primaries and runoff elections. McAllister and Riser made the runoff; a Democrat narrowly missed it. That left a huge pool of votes for someone to grab in a district that's 36 percent African-American—one of the largest nonwhite populations in a district currently held by a Republican. In those other 47 states, where Republican nominations will be decided by Republican voters only, endorsing part of the Affordable Care Act to benefit the very poor might not be a stone-cold winner.

*I updated this with a reference to Louisiana that was previously, mysteriously absent.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

The Ludicrous Claims You’ll Hear at This Company’s “Egg Freezing Parties”

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM Going Private To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 1 2014 10:49 AM James Meredith, Determined to Enroll at Ole Miss, Declares His Purpose in a 1961 Letter
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 10:44 AM Everyone’s Favorite Bob’s Burgers Character Gets a Remix You Can Dance to
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 10:27 AM 3,000 French Scientists Are Marching to Demand More Research Funding
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.