The study released Friday by the center-left think tank says the rhetoric of Republican and Democratic governors is disingenuous regarding Obamacare because “electoral forces (not principles such as liberty or empathy) drive elected officials’ positions on health care.”
Brookings Fellow John Hudak’s study, “Give Me Liberty or At Least Your Vote: A Study of Governors’ Altruism on Health Care,” accuses governors of “political pandering.”
Hudak notes that 14 of the 19 states with higher-than-average rates of uninsured are led by GOP governors, including Idaho, where 17 percent are uninsured, the 17th highest rate.
Nine GOP governors have said they will refuse to expand Medicaid rolls, and six more are considering opting out of expansion. Ten of those 15 are from states with higher rates of uninsured. Democratic governors often come from states with low rates of uninsured.
But, Hudak writes, governors from both parties “are not putting principle before politics.” Instead, he argues, they appeal to their bases — Republicans reliant on affluent white voters more likely to be insured and Democrats backed by less-well-heeled constituents with a greater proportion of uninsured.
“Such a basis for policy support — constituency needs — is certainly not a damning trait,” Hudak writes. “... However, both sides’ political rhetoric of principle and altruism is disingenuous. Concerns about general health and welfare or of government takeovers are window dressing for political pandering.”
Hudak defaults Otter to a “no” on the question of refusing Medicaid expansion, but adds a footnote: “Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has yet to release a definitive position on the issue of Medicaid expansion.”
When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act last week, Otter was on his annual horseback ride with the Idaho Cattle Association. His office issued a statement urging repeal: “Change is now in the hands of the American people and we must elect a new president and congressional candidates who will repeal Obamacare and protect our freedom to remain the architects of our own destiny.”
[0x13]Spokesman Jon Hanian said Friday that Otter may make some news soon. “May have something for you sometime next week. … Stay tuned,” Hanian said.
Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics