Pawlenty Allows States To Apply For Health Funds Despite Executive Order

Over the last several months, I’ve reported that governors, states, and even corporations that are challenging the new health care law are eagerly applying for and accepting the law’s federal grants. Many states are busily implementing the measure despite the resistance of their elected leaders, creating a kind of schizophrenic environment in which the politicians speak out against reform but state health departments are busily working with Washington D.C. to ensure that the law meets state needs and requirements.

Now, Amanda Terkel is reporting that even Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) — who has recently issued an executive order to stop implementation — is quietly allowing more than $10 million to flow into the state:

The Huffington Post has learned that the state Department of Health is considering 10 federal grants worth more than $10 million in total and the governor’s office is allowing all but two of those grants to go forward, highlighting the fact that Pawlenty is more than willing to take advantage of federal money when it fits his agenda. […]

In other words, Pawlenty’s executive order isn’t really keeping the Affordable Care Act out of Minnesota; millions of dollars from the federal law can still flow into the state. The Huffington Post spoke with John Stieger, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health, who identified 10 existing grants worth more than $10 million that come from the federal health care law. He said that Pawlenty’s office had authorized all but two of them to go forward: the Personal Responsibility Education Program grant that provides funding for comprehensive sex education and the Health Insurance Exchange.

Indeed, this sounds like a consistant pattern across many so-called anti-reform states. When I spoke to one health care advocate in Utah — another state that is suing the federal government while meeting with HHS to ensure that the law meets its needs — she speculated that even the repeal and replace advocates realize that “this is how they have to do reform and it is important to get started and try out some of these ideas.” “I wonder if they’re not thinking well, the only way to prove reforms are wrong, is to give them a good college try,” she said. In Pawlenty’s case however, it’s probably an acknowledgment of the limitations of his public rhetoric. Despite his principled and “presidential” stances, this is a concession that the state will benefit from reforms.