Election 2014

L.P. Candidate Sean Haugh Makes No Bones About His Support for Medicaid Expansion

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Sean Haugh, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate
Sean Haugh, Libertarian for US Senate

Most of Sean Haugh's positions are pretty much what you would expect from a Libertarian Party candidate. Haugh, who's running for U.S. Senate in North Carolina, favors legalizing marijuana and opposes any restrictions on abortion. He says his top priority is to end "all war." But nestled among the unremarkable is one stance that's, well, not like the others. The Weekly Standard reports:

Asked if he thought it was a mistake to reject additional federal funding to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, Haugh replied, "I do."

"The rejection of the Medicaid expansion dollars—which on the surface you could kind of make a libertarian case for—but the end users have suffered."

The notion that choosing not to expand a massive welfare program is only "kind of" a libertarian thing to do is a bit of a head scratcher. Federal grants to the states for Medicaid and the Child Health Insurance Program totaled $265 billion in 2012. Under Obamacare, states can get even more money in exchange for agreeing to let a wider population, including non-disabled adults without children, into the program.

A number of states, including North Carolina, have opted to forgo the extra funds after the Supreme Court in 2012 issued a decision that safeguards their ability to do so without facing retribution from Washington.

Haugh's position seems to be that lawmakers in Raleigh were wrong for not voluntarily adding another 800,000-or-so people to their Medicaid rolls. In a July 12 Facebook post, the Senate hopeful went even further, implying that when states don't expand the program, "people die." As evidence, he linked to a news story about a North Carolina hospital that will soon be shuttered:

Vidant Health System executives cited North Carolina's decision not to participate in federally funded Medicaid expansion as a factor in the decision to close the hospital.

Haugh, who has worked in the hospital industry, talked about this issue at more length in a video for his campaign website. "As a libertarian, I definitely want to reform and eventually eliminate federal involvement in health care," he says in the video. "But I'll be damned if I'm going to throw grandma out on the street to accomplish that."

Update (11/02/14): Haugh takes issue with the Weekly Standard article linked above:

Haugh's Twitter response to my blog post

I've reached out to him and asked if he would clarify for the record where he stands on Medicaid expansion. So far he has declined to do so.