“We hope that Congress would offer targeted, temporary relief for people to maintain their current coverage while we work together on free-market, consumer-friendly solutions for the future.”-Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin in a recent opinion article in the Tulsa World
Is Gov. Mary Fallin signaling to the U.S. Supreme Court that she and other Republican governors actually want it to uphold the tax-credit features of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while saving political face with their voter bases?
It sure seems that way, and it’s incredibly hypocritical and crass politics at its most manipulative. In a recent opinion piece, Fallin argued if the court finds for the plaintiff in King versus Burwell, she wants “relief” for Oklahomans now covered under the ACA, which mean, in effect, she wants it to continue at least temporarily. The word “relief” is an important one for its symbolic connotations.
Look at the circumstances. Fallin is a second-term lame duck governor, who hasn’t really expressed an interest in running for office again. She’s also from one of the reddest states in the nation. Fallin can simply qualify her argument while giving cover to other Republican governors, who are still politically viable.
Are you listening, SCOTUS, are you listening?
The court has heard arguments over whether people should qualify for tax credits when they buy insurance under (ACA) in those states that didn’t establish health care exchanges. It’s a bizarre, right-wing quibble. The law states the tax credits will come from “an Exchange established by the State.” In context, it should be clear that by the State (note the caps), the law means the entire federal government, along with states, but conservatives ague the language means those credits should only go to people in “states” (note the lower case) that established exchanges.
Most states-34 of them in all, which includes Oklahoma-did not establish exchanges but millions of people who live in these states have bought health insurance through “the State” or the federal exchange and received tax credits through the Internal Revenue Service. That includes nearly 125,000 Oklahomans, according to recent media reports.
Fallin, of course, criticized the ACA in her commentary, and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has filed lawsuits against it. But she’s clear on this point:
We hope that Congress would offer targeted, temporary relief for people to maintain their current coverage while we work together on free-market, consumer-friendly solutions for the future.
In other words, please continue the ACA until we find something better, but Republicans don’t have a viable plan upon which they can agree and never will. Everyone on the court knows that. The ACA already offers “free market and consumer-friendly solutions.” It’s certainly not the universal, single payer system this country so desperately needs.
It’s clear if Republicans are successful with the court in cutting the health insurance of some portion of more than 11 million people, they will face a political disaster. Locally, it might just make more of those 125,000 Oklahoman vote, and they would have a good reason to vote against Republicans for ruining their health care. At the same time, these Republicans have demonized the ACA so much, they risk looking like tremendous hypocrites if they just simply conceded that the ACA is working.
Some might think my interpretation of Fallin’s editorial on the larger, national political level is a stretch, but as much energy as she and Pruitt have used criticism of the ACA as a political cudgel and to win votes, she sure comes across as the ultimate hypocrite.