Outgoing Minnesota Governor and potential presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty (R) reiterated his opposition to the Affordable Care Act this morning on CNN’s State of the Union, touting his principled rejection of the law’s grants and programs:
PAWLENTY: I think ObamaCare is one of the worst pieces of legislation passed in the modern history of the country. I’m doing everything I can in Minnesota to stop delay or avoid its implementation in my state, including signing an executive order saying we’re not going to participate unless required by law or approved by me. We’ve been given opportunities to early enroll in that program and take advantage of other aspects of it. We’ve declined and I hope between now and 2014, when it’s fully kicked in, that as many states as possible do what they can to reel that program back or that the new Republican congress, better yet, can repeal it. Because it’s dragging stuff into Washington, DC, creating a new bureaucracy, spending a lot of new money that they don’t have isn’t going to work. We should have market-based solutions.
But as I’ve been chronicling here, Pawlenty’s opposition to federal funds isn’t nearly as absolute or widespread as he would have his party faithful believe. In reality, Pawlenty is trying to present himself as a strong opponent of ACA funding, while simultaneously carving out exceptions to his own position.
Pawlenty’s executive order includes a caveat that allows the Governor to “evaluate federal funding opportunities on a case by case basis” and he has recently allowed the state’s Management and Budget Office to apply for a grant from the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, “a $5 billion program that helps pay for the insurance costs of retirees between the ages of 55 and 64.” So far, Minnesota has received some $11.1 million in ACA grants and Pawlenty has separately accepted $263 million in federal dollars to bolster the state’s Medicaid program.
Asked if repealing health reform would be a center piece of his campaign platform, should he choose to run for president in 2012, Pawlenty spouted off a succession of trite catch phrases about the law and said that he would, in fact, run on repeal.
Texas Governor Rick Perry (R), who appeared on the show with Pawlenty, also denounced the new law without noting that his legislature and state agencies are busy implementing the measure. As Thomas M. Suehs, the state’s commissioner of health and human services told the New York Times, the governor “expects me to implement the federal law in the most cost-effective, efficient manner.” According to HealthCare.gov, the federal government has made $47.5 million in new grant funding available in Texas since passage of the law.