OK, so maybe it wasn't exactly a group hug. But make no mistake: The grudging acceptance of President Barack Obama's signature health care reform by the nation's governors during last weekend's get-together with POTUS marked the fall of another political obstacle to Obamacare.
While not all of the governors "of the great state of ..." who attended Sunday night's chow-down at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. were willing to make nice, the tone of the gathering was decidedly conciliatory.
"Before the (2012) election, it felt like a cockfight," Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, who heads the Democratic Governors Association, told The Associated Press following a private lunch session Saturday. "Down there, we were talking about ways we could cooperate."
Their eyes toward the elections
The group tweet from the guvs might read something like this: "Ocare? Whatever helps my peeps helps me get elected. Dump it? Too $$. Fix it? We'll see. Not our fight. Can no longer afford the snark."
The sudden change of heart may have more to do with the rather delicate tightrope walk that some Republican governors face going into the fall midterm elections than with anything remotely resembling an "a-ha!" moment. There are 36 gubernatorial seats up for grabs in November, most of them currently held by the GOP.
Several Republican governors, including Rick Snyder of Michigan and Pennsylvania's Tom Corbett, have opted to expand Medicaid under the attractive terms laid out by Obamacare, even as their party continues to treat the nearly four-year-old law as Public Enemy No. 1.
Watching the numbers
Then there have been those inconvenient statistics recently that suggest Obamacare may be working. Despite a rough online debut, nearly 3.3 million have signed up for health insurance, including 1 million in January alone. It's got to grate a little that signups have been as strong or stronger than predicted in red states, including Florida, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin.
Sure, there's still plenty of quibbling. Even New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, a first-term Democrat who expanded Medicaid to cover 50,000 uninsured residents, told the AP, "Overall, I'm very disappointed with the early implementation and rollout," while conceding, "I think we're making progress."
But, in that same report, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, a staunch opponent of Obamacare, may have best captured the new, unofficial consensus among state leaders toward health reform.
"I don't think that it's so deeply entrenched that it can't be repealed, but I do think, as we argue for repeal, we have to show folks what you replace it with," he says.
Follow me on Twitter: @omnisaurus.
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