Over the past several years, it’s seemed like Republicans would never give up the fight against Obamacare. Even after the health care reform law survived a Supreme Court challenge, dozens of repeal efforts in Congress, and a presidential election, GOP governors across the country stubbornly resisted moving toward implementing health care reform — even at the expense of their state’s low-income residents. But that tide may finally be turning.
As Politico reports, some Republican governors are starting to resist the pull of the rest of their party and move ahead with key parts of President Obama’s health law. Five Republicans governors have now agreed to Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion, and three GOP leaders are pursuing state-run insurance markets. The growing number of Republicans who are beginning to cooperate with health care reform, as well as the fact that repeal efforts aren’t gaining much traction in Obama’s second term, may signal that the partisan fight over Obamacare is finally past its prime:
These state moves represent a turning point in the fight over Obamacare. Outside the Beltway, GOP governors are living with the reality that there’s nothing they can do to stop the law, so some are trying to carry it out on their own terms. And Republicans back home and in Washington aren’t giving their governors hell for giving in to the ACA — even if The Wall Street Journal editorial page doesn’t like it. [...]
Dan Derksen, who used to oversee Affordable Care Act implementation in New Mexico and is consulting on Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan, called the governors’ decision to implement major pieces of Obamacare “courageous,” given the partisan opposition to the law.
“I just think that when you look at the data and what it means to the constituency they represent, they’re making a data-driven, evidence-based, informed decision,” said Derksen, a Republican. “I admire the courage of governors like Sandoval, Martinez and Brewer.”
With the exception of New Mexico, all the GOP-led states that have indicated support for implementing Obamacare were part of a lawsuit against the health law challenging the constitutionality of its individual mandate. But the political reality is different now, particularly since public support for Obamacare is growing now that Americans are beginning to experience the positive effects of some of its new provisions.
However, that doesn’t mean every Republican leader in the country is on board. Ten GOP governors have already rejected Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, even though some of their states have the highest rates of uninsurance in the nation. And some Obamacare opponents are keeping the fight alive on a state level, proposing legislation to block state officials from implementing health reform.