Will there ever be any true political winners in the Obamacare fight?
Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida — one of the most recalcitrant opponents of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — came half-circle Wednesday, resignedly telling his constituents he will work with the Administration of President Barack Obama by asking the Legislature to expand the Medicaid program in his State.
He’s trying to look as Republican as he can about it. He credits his change of heart to a viscerally wrenching event, one unassailable for all but the most callous of media (the death of his mother). His press conference remarks Wednesday were appropriately grumpy:
I believe in a different approach, but it doesn’t matter what I believe. It doesn’t matter what anybody believes. The Supreme Court has already made its decision. We had an election in the fall. OK. The public made its decision. Now the president’s health care law, the mandate, is the law.
Florida Tea Party conservatives who helped get Scott elected in an expensive, tight 2010 race are having none of that. One lucky Tea Party activist beat all others to the punch in calling Scott the “Benedict Arnold to the patriot and Tea Party movements in Florida,” according to McClatchy News Service.
Liberals are skeptical, too, but happy to step back and watch the political career of one of the President’s most galvanizing and vocal adversaries self-destruct. This is a man for whom there’s long existed a titanic motive to protect healthcare, as a business, from regulatory harm. He’s the founder of Conservatives for Patients’ Rights (CPR), the nominal champion of a systemic alternative to Obamacare based on free-market principles. He led the 26-State legal charge to thwart the healthcare bill’s enforcement before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now he’s become the seventh Republican Governor to capitulate to the new reality of healthcare in the United States and accept Obama’s vision of an expanded Medicaid. He likely won’t be the last, but it’s hard to imagine anyone who’ll be more vilified for the change.