A growing number of Republican governors have dropped all their defiant rhetoric about the Affordable Care Act and have chosen instead to accept President Obama’s expansion of government-funded health care for the poor.
These GOP converts include John Kasich of Ohio, Jan Brewer of Arizona, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Susana Martinez of New Mexico — and now Rick Scott of Florida (above).
Scott’s case is especially noteworthy, in light of his erstwhile vehement opposition to every aspect of Obamacare. But, of course, his about-face has riled the Tea Party crowd in his state, as Dana Milbank reports HERE:
“It is not a white flag of surrender,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said.
This was technically true: Scott did not wave a banner of any color when he announced Wednesday that he wants Florida to expand Medicaid, a key piece of Obamacare.
But make no mistake: Scott, a tea party Republican and outspoken critic of the law, was laying down arms in defeat. The former hospital executive won his gubernatorial race in 2010 by campaigning against Obamacare, and as governor he fought the law in court. Even when the Supreme Court ruled against his position last year, he vowed defiance.
“We’re not going to implement Obamacare in Florida,” he said then. “We’re not going to expand Medicaid.”
The about-face by Scott, the seventh Republican governor to accept Obama’s expansion of government-funded health care for the poor, is a crucial validation of the president’s signature initiative. In his announcement, Scott made a moral case for the Medicaid expansion as compelling as the law’s proponents ever made.
“This country is the greatest in the world, and it’s the greatest largely because of how we value the weakest among us,” said Scott, in a blazer and open-collar oxford said in his announcement. “It shouldn’t depend on your Zip code or your tax bracket. No mother or father should despair over whether they have access to high-quality health care for their sick child.” With federal funds covering the cost, “I cannot in good conscience deny Floridians that needed access to health care.”
Conscience is trumping politics elsewhere, too, even as the tea party maintains its grip on Republicans in Washington. Thirteen states, mostly in the South, have so far opted out of the Medicaid expansion funds, according to Advisory Board Co. Twenty-three and the District have opted in…
In Florida, the dwindling band of tea-partiers was furious with Scott, calling him a Benedict Arnold. But the cause he supposedly betrayed has already lost.
After following the tea party agenda over the last two years, Scott has the support of just one in three Floridians. Now he’s acting like a competent executive. He said he would evaluate the expansion over time and decide whether changes should be made. That’s a great idea. It’s too bad the law’s opponents wasted three years hollering about socialism and tyranny…
“My top priority continues to be to make Florida the global leader for job creation,” the tea party traitor said. “But we also have to be sensitive to the needs of the poorest and the weakest among us who struggle to access affordable, high-quality health care.”
Obama couldn’t have said it better himself.