Facing Obamacare Deadlines, GOP Governors Still Won’t Do Their Homework

Now that President Obama has secured a second term, the implementation of his landmark health reform law continues to march forward — but since stubborn Republican governors across the country see themselves as the last roadblock standing in the way of Obamacare, they’re still doing everything in their power to halt that progress.

Last month, federal officials agreed to give state officials more time to design their health exchange markets in light of Republican leaders’ concerns that they wouldn’t be able to turn in their plans in time. However, as GOP governors continue to resist Obamacare as a purely political statement, Politico reports that they have allowed deadlines to come and go without lifting a finger to do the necessary work to prepare for the impending health care law:

The passive resistance of so many governors could gum up the works if the feds have to handle millions of enrollments, questions from confused customers and greater health plan oversight.

As of Friday — the final deadline for states to declare whether they’ll set up exchanges — more than 30 states had refused to set up the marketplaces, which had been expected to become the source of health coverage for as many as 25 million people by the end of the decade. To some of the law’s most vocal opponents, that’s a pretty good way to keep up the fight against Obamacare.

“The more states that opt out of the state-based exchanges, the harder it will be for the federal government to fully implement Obamacare and the more likely it will be that we can turn back the clock and reframe the health care debate,” Tea Party Patriots wrote to supporters ahead of Friday’s deadline.

Some Republican governors say they’re dragging their feet on reform because they still haven’t had enough time to prepare, or because they need more information from the Obama administration to fully understand what’s expected of them. In the lead up to last week’s deadline, several of the Republican governors who have been particularly resistant to cooperating with Obamacare’s implementation — including Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer — requested a meeting with Obama to talk over the details of the Affordable Care Act’s impact on their states.

But Democratic lawmakers dismiss these concerns as simply a convenient excuse for standing in the way of Obamacare, pointing out that Republican leaders have had plenty of time to complete their homework. “It seems to me it’s just the latest attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act,” Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) told the Hill. “Let’s not buy into this next line of attack that the law must be delayed.”

Despite what Obamacare opponents may hope, however, the Republican governors refusing to do the work to prepare for Obamacare in their states won’t actually prevent the health reform law from going into effect. The Obama administration maintains that the health exchanges will be ready in time — even if more of the responsibility for them rests with the federal government rather than with state officials.