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GOP Governors Will Inherit the Uninsured GOP Governors Will Inherit the Uninsured

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Health Care

HEALTH CARE

GOP Governors Will Inherit the Uninsured

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Texas, where GOP Gov. Rick Perry won re-election last week, has the highest rate of uninsured people at 26.1 percent.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

When the new class of state governors takes office in January, Republican chief executives will govern almost 60 percent of the nation’s population that lacks health insurance, according to a National Journal analysis of Census Bureau figures.

Republicans will hold governorships in at least 29 states after the election, with approximately 29.5 million people without health insurance. The 19 states with Democratic governors (one race has yet to be called and one state elected an independent) will have just over 20.5 million uninsured residents. As the graphic above makes clear, Republicans will control the governorship in each of the five states with the highest rates of uncovered residents: Texas, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, and Georgia. Texas and Florida alone account for about one-fifth of the nation’s roughly 50.7 million uninsured residents -- nearly 10.6 million in all. (California, which will be led next year by Democrat Jerry Brown, has the most uninsured residents, over 7.3 million.)

 

In all, 7 of the 10 states with the largest share of uninsured residents (and 14 of the top 20) will have Republican governors next year. Each of those governors will face un-insurance rates of at least 15 percent -- against the backdrop of budget shortfalls and rising costs for both Medicaid and uncompensated care in local safety net institutions. The concentration of the un-insurance problem in states governed by Republicans could add an unpredictable twist to the congressional Republican pledge to repeal President Obama’s health care law.

Most Republican governors have supported repeal, although the Census figures show that many of their states would be among the biggest beneficiaries of the subsidies for uninsured individuals and the increased federal dollars for Medicaid that the law sets in motion. For the governors, “these issues will play out when ideological and political interest comes head to head to financial interest,” says Drew Altman, president of the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation, which analyzes health care issues.

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