Last April, in the throes of her gubernatorial campaign, Gov. Mary Fallin made her opposition to the new health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, a major part of her campaign.
In a press release, Fallin said then:
While Brad Henry sits on the sidelines, Drew Edmondson has now refused to join 19 other states in the bipartisan legal challenge to ObamaCare. His lack of leadership has actually forced the Oklahoma Legislature to hire an outside law firm to represent our state in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the bill.
Once governor, Fallin didn’t hesitate to bring legal action against “ObamaCare.” As she told a television interviewer in January:
The new federal health care bill is actually in violation of Oklahoma’s constitution because Oklahoma’s constitution now has an amendment through the health care freedom amendment that says that no law, no rule shall force Oklahomans, whether it’s Oklahomans, businesses or health care providers, to join into a health care system, and that’s in direct violation of the Oklahoma constitution. So we’re going to challenge it on our own merits as Oklahoma.
So have things changed? Does Fallin no longer believe the law should be scrapped? According to NewsOK.com, Fallin has decided to accept a $54.6 million grant to help create a health exchange in the state, which is made possible by the Affordable Care Act. Fallin said this about accepting the grant:
After thoroughly reviewing the “early innovator” grant, I am happy to say that the federal assistance we are being offered is consistent with our mission to design and implement an Oklahoma-based health insurance exchange.
That exchange will empower consumers and help individuals and small businesses to shop for and enroll in affordable, quality health insurance plans. This is a step in the right direction for Oklahoma and its citizens.
The health exchanges are designed to help people and businesses find affordable health insurance plans by pooling together, which is a good idea, but how can Fallin reconcile taking money funded by a law she wants overturned? Does this mean she doesn’t think the law will actually be repealed? What if the U.S. Supreme Court eventually rules the law is unconstitutional?
This is more than just typical right-wing hypocrisy. It should remind everyone of the relentless anti-Obama campaign Fallin ran to get elected governor. Was the Obama demonization just a ruse to manipulate the gullible? Now that she’s governor, she’s talking like a politician proudly bringing the pork home when it comes to the new health care law. What has changed?
There are a couple of points to make here. One, the fear mongering about “ObamaCare” is less about the actual law than it is about furthering the political interests of the GOP. People can have honest disagreements over whether people should eventually be mandated to buy health insurance, the most debated part of the law, but it’s hardly “socialism” or whatever label du jour the GOP gives it. A public option for health insurance could solve that issue.
Second, let’s hope this means Fallin plans to govern from the political center, putting the state’s interests above ideology or right-wing campaign rhetoric.
The newspaper story about Fallin and the health exchange grant didn’t thoroughly address the disparity between her anti-Obama/health care reform rhetoric and the way she lauded how the exchanges would “empower consumers.” But, then, that’s to be expected. The newspaper has vehemently opposed the new health care law on its editorial page while also taking advantage of at least one of its provisions.