GOP Governors Complain About Lack Of Flexibility In The Affordable Care Act But Offer No New Plans

March 02, 2011 4:10 pm ET — Meredith Kormes

Rick Perry

On Monday, President Obama came out in support of a bipartisan proposal to allow states move forward sooner in developing their own alternative systems to provide the expanded coverage required under the Affordable Care Act. Obama framed his support as a way to "give [governors] flexibility more quickly, while still guaranteeing the American people reform."  

But for all the Republican governors' talk about wanting more flexibility, many of them were not satisfied with this step. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) said, "That doesn't help us any. They'd do us a favor if they let us opt out [of the entire law]." Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) said, "I was disappointed...The states need more than that." And at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Tuesday, Govs. Haley Barbour (R-MS) and Gary Herbert (R-UT) repeatedly complained about the lack of flexibility the Affordable Care Act provides to the states, particularly in implementing Medicaid. 

However, Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic highlights the underlying issue amongst all these calls for more flexibility:

The real problem here, in other words, isn't the lack of flexibility in the health law. It's the lack of workable ideas from critics on the right.

Republicans love to complain about the Affordable Care Act and have voted to repeal and defund it but have yet to offer a plan to replace it that would still provide comprehensive coverage to consumers without increasing the cost to taxpayers. The Republican governors' latest talking point to change Medicaid funding to block grants is a recycled idea from the 1980s and 1990s that never went anywhere because of the increased costs to the states. As the House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) said, "The idea was discredited 30 years ago and it will be discredited again."