President Obama’s health care law -- already embroiled in fights on Capitol Hill and in federal courts across the country -- picked up a new challenge Monday when 21 Republican governors sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius outlining how they believe the law will cripple their states.
The group proposed six changes to make the law more workable. In the letter, the group says the new health care system, “is seriously flawed, favors dependency over personal responsibility, and will ultimately destroy the private insurance market.” The governors are asking for unfettered flexibility in crafting state insurance exchanges, and for waivers from the law’s “costly mandates.”
Republican Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who many predict will make a run for the White House in 2012, went a step further. He authored a piece in the Wall Street Journal in Monday that says, in reference to the new law, “all claims made for it were false.”
Daniels stands by the piece and says independent experts have verified the governors’ worst fears about what implementation of the law will mean.
“It was advertised as reducing the debt, and it's going to add to it in a dramatic way,” Daniels claims. “It was advertised as reducing health care costs, but now everyone accepts it will run them upward.”
In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday, President Obama said he is open to ideas that could “improve the law.” The comment follows a Sunday interview with Fox News' Bill O’Reilly, in which the president indicated he is willing to consider Republicans’ ideas on the topic.
But the president warned, “I'm not prepared to go back to a day when the American people -- if you have got a pre-existing condition, if you had a heart attack then you can't get help.”
As the governors await a response from the administration, they are gearing up to move ahead either way. In the letter they asked Sebelius to endorse their suggestions, but they noted, “If you do not agree, we will move forward with our own efforts regardless and HHS should be making plans to run exchanges under its own auspices.”
Daniels hopes the administration will truly consider the ideas laid out in the governors’ letter. He says the economic impact on states forced to implement the changes mandated by the health care law could be devastating, and may wind up costing millions of Americans their health care coverage. “We governors have to live in the real world,” Daniels said. “Only in Washington can you bet on a miracle.”