We may be hopelessly conflicted on climate change, addicted as we are to that most practical of drugs, fossil fuel. We can't seem to get gun rights in our sights or to right-size our government. The din that yet surrounds both reproductive rights and same-sex unions continues, and it's as shrill as a bad 1980s hair band.
But the battle over Obamacare is over.
Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott officially threw in the towel, joining a half-dozen other Republican governors who've recently conceded after having spent the past three-plus years railing against President Barack Obama's landmark health care reform legislation, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 -- aka Obamacare.
What makes Scott's sudden change of heart more significant than that of, say, Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico or Gov. John Kasich of Ohio?
Two things: 1) Scott, a former hospital executive elected in 2010 as a tea party-backed reformer, led the 26-state constitutional challenge against health care reform that was largely rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer; and 2), he caved on the one concession that the Supreme Court was willing to grant, which was to make health care reform's vast expansion of Medicaid optional for states, rather than mandatory.
Scott's pivot quickly incited his right-wing base, which labeled his change of heart a blatant samba to the political center in anticipation of a 2014 re-election catfight with former Gov. Charlie Crist, who recently switched from Republican to Democrat for much the same reason.
What the tea party failed to recognize is that Scott, who made his fortune as a bottom-line kinda guy, could hardly ignore the math. Florida has roughly 4 million uninsured, or about 1 in 5 residents. The proposed expansion of Medicaid would provide health insurance to more than 1 million of them, and the feds have offered to pay 100 percent of the cost to add them for the first three years beginning in 2014, sliding to 90 percent from 2020 on.
The expansion will not only save billions in "free" health care that hospitals provide by law to the uninsured (the expense of which is then passed on in the form of higher health insurance premiums), but it will also create roughly 71,000 jobs in the Sunshine State.
Sure, there are still a few GOP holdouts, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Texas governor and former presidential candidate Rick Perry. But faced with uninsured populations equal to or greater than Rick Scott's 20 percent or so, the governors may decide that practicality will have to overcome politics when the numbers have all been crunched.
Follow me on Twitter: @omnisaurus
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