The Last Word | November 19, 2012
>>> the affordable care act may be the law of the land , but that hasn't stopped some from trying to block it any way they know how. governor mary fallin joined a group of governors opting out after a health insurance exchange program . the exchange program would give workers a way to buy their own affordable health insurance . now the task of setting up the exchanges will fall to the federal government , a cost that opponents of the law will weaken the president's program. in her statement today, she said, the choice has been forced on the people of oklahoma by the obama administration. it does not benefit oklahoma taxpayers to actively support a new program that will ultimately be under the control of the federal government . the governor announced that oklahoma will join seven other states in opting out of the medicaid expansion portion of the affordable care act set to begin in 2014 . in june the supreme court ruled that the medicaid expansion should be an option, not a requirement, for states . nationwide would extend coverage to 17 million uninsured americans at little cost to the states . in fact for the first three years, they will cover 100% of the cost for new enrollees. joining me e is senior editor for the new republic. this is a great mystery to me, but why are republican states opting out of a federal tax break?
>> well, you know, the critics of the affordable care act really wanted to take the law off the books all together. but they ended up one vote short in the supreme court and 60-something electoral votes on election day . so they can't take the law off the books. they can't repeal it. so they are trying the the next best thing which is to get governors to undermine the law. it was written to give states flexibility. maybe the needs of a state like arkansas are a little different than the needs of a state like massachusetts. well, fine. so they created a law where governors have authority over what the law will look like in those states . what you're seeing is the conservatives exploiting that, ta taking advantage of that, to basically say, look, we're just not going to implement this law at all. and so the rest of the country might benefit from obama care. people in all the other states are going to get health insurance , but a state like oklahoma where they have 600,000 people who have no health insurance in oklahoma , most of them would get health insurance under the affordable care act and the governor is saying, no, the citizens of my state are not going to get that help.
>> you bring up a good point, which is in most of the states where governors are rejecting it, it could benefit greatly. here are the rates for those opting out. texas has a rate of 25.5% uninsured. georgia, 22%. louisiana, 22%. florida, 21%. this is a fifth of the public here doesn't have health insurance . so i guess in terms of how this plays out in the state house , i wonder if governors hold on to their seats once they reject something that would have a considerable human benefit.
>> it will have a huge human benefit. it's not just the people who get health insurance . you know, there are hospitals in these states . today when people have no health insurance , they show up at the hospital and the hospitals have to treat them. and that cost at the hospital will bare it and pass it on to everyone else in the community. hospitals are looking at this and saying this is money that could help stabilize our finances so we don't have to charge everybody else so much money. i wouldn't be surprise d if over the next few months, as the election is now passed, you hear more and more from hospitals if places like texas and oklahoma knocking on the door of the legislature saying, hey, what are you guys doing? this is a great deal for us. why are you turning away this money? we are going to have to make up the difference.
>> the public seems to be shifting. the percentage of americans who want it repealed is down to 33%. given that shifting tide of public opinion , what do you think governors who have yet to make a decision on some parts of the act including chris christie , rick scott , jan brewer , what do you predict they will do in the coming months?
>> you know, i think we're going to start to see the governors back away from the rhetoric. there was a lot of objection to the affordable care act because its fate was settled. if you were a governor, why not play it and reject the law. but now we know the law is going to stay. you'll see them start to back off. just the other day, rick scott of florida, who was one of the best known, most outspoken opponents of the affordable care act , he said maybe we can see how we can make this work. eventually most of the states will come along. but it could take some time. until then, millions of people need health insurance and who could get health insurance . we have the money, we have the law. all we're asking is for legislators to say yes.
>> a purity test that should not be taken lightly. it's easier to say yes than no. jonathan, thank you for joining me tonight.
>>> coming up the president and his secretary of state take their final international trip together and visit a place where hope and change are just beginning to take hold. can