The Newark Star Ledger released a blistering editorial on Gov. Christie this morning. They argue that while Gov. Christie dedicated 66% of his recent State of the State address to addiction, has appeared in numerous commercials about drug treatment, and has tried to set himself up as a national figure on addiction, he has stayed silent on Trumpcare and the Medicaid rollback. Drug policy experts and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) have stated that 1.3 million Americans were able to access drug treatment only after the Medicaid expansion that was part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Gov. Christie was among a handful of Republican Governors (including John Kasich, R-OH) who decided to take the Medicaid Expansion. Last August, Gov. Christie said that “the naysayers were wrong” and that over 500,000 NJ residents became insured under the ACA, most of them from the Medicaid Expansion. When he ran for President in 2015-2016, he touted his record on drug treatment and his willingness to split from the standard Republican position of total rejection of the ACA.
President Trump, Secretary Price and Speaker Ryan recently introduced the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Mr. Trump has said, “We have come up with a solution that’s really, really I think very good,” but both moderate Republicans and Democrats have cited independent and partisan studies that state that over twenty million people will lose coverage in the next 10 years and that this will have a potentially disastrous effect on the heroin and opioid epidemic. Republican Governors such as Mr. Kasich (Ohio), Bruce Rauner (Illinois), and Brian Sandoval (Nevada) have come out strongly against the AHCA. Despite Mr. Christie’s previous praising of the ACA and Medicaid expansion and the examples set by the other Governors, he has not uttered a word about the AHCA.
Here’s the rub: it makes sense for Gov. Christie to remain quiet. He has less than a year left in office, and his best (and last?) hope for a future political position is in the Trump Administration. While there are examples in American history of a President appointing someone who blasted them, it is rare. The passage or defeat of the AHCA will not be impacted at all by Christie’s opinions. While a critique of the AHCA and the Medicaid Rollback would momentarily please newspaper editors and drug policy experts, it makes absolutely no political sense.
I value loyalty. Very highly. I have worked for a couple of excellent bosses/supervisors. We have usually marched in tune together, but there have been rare occasions in which we disagreed on some issue or policy. I never broke with them publicly (those reading this may think about all of my criticisms leveled at Gov. Christie and other politicians that I have worked with, but I have never directly worked for them). On the same vein, I have always wanted subordinates to question and even challenge me, but only behind closed doors. I very much doubt that I would hire someone who publicly challenged or attacked me on a position or issue. Nor would almost anyone else. There is much to hit Governor Christie on, but his failure to criticize President Trump is not one of them.