Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney stepped back slightly from the suggestion he would turn down federal money to expand the state Medicaid program to 130,000 West Virginians. Already, 420,000 West Virginians rely on the program.
In a Wednesday radio interview, Maloney declined to repeat comments he made Tuesday during a televised debate with Democrat Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
While Maloney expressed continued worry about making more West Virginians dependent on government programs, he declined three times to say what he would do about Medicaid.
"You talk about a political hot potato - we need more facts - and until we get Mr. Romney in there, get rid of President Obama, that would solve all these issues and we wouldn't have to worry about it," Maloney told MetroNews Talkine host Hoppy Kercheval.
On Tuesday, Maloney had been asked a similar question about expanding Medicaid.
"No, I don't think that's a good idea right now," he said.
The U.S. Supreme Court preserved much of the national health care reform law in a ruling earlier this year, but it also ruled states could opt out of a federal plan meant to expand Medicaid, the state and federally funded health care program for the poor.
Democrat Tomblin clearly sees the benefit of giving Medicaid to tens of thousands of uninsured West Virginians.
But he also has remained on the fence about a potential expansion. Even though the federal government is supposed to pick up most of the cost, Tomblin is worried about the tens of millions of dollars each year it will eventually cost the state.
His administration has delayed making decisions about how to shape health care reform measures in the state. Those decisions - or lack thereof - have prompted speculation he is delaying until after the election. Tomblin has said he is waiting on federal officials to answer questions.
On Thursday, the Maloney campaign said the country must elect Romney to try to repeal the whole national health care law.
"If we can repeal ObamaCare and take steps toward some common-sense health care reforms, we can improve the health of all West Virginians and not bankrupt our state," campaign manager Seth Wimer said in a statement.