Rick Perry rejects health reform, reality

Updated
Texas Gov. Rick Perry at last month's Texas Republican Convention.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry at last month's Texas Republican Convention.
AP Photo/LM Otero

The reaction of the Republican Party to the Supreme Court’s upholding of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been, in a word, petulant. Yes, that will continue when House Republicans inevitably stage a meaningless vote to repeal the law. But forget about the bluster coming from Washington conservatives for a moment. The real whining is being done by states with Republican leadership.

Melissa and her guests accounted for the number of Republican governors (including Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Florida’s Rick Scott) who, at the time of our Sunday broadcast, were opting out of the Medicaid expansion in the law, and choosing not to enforce it altogether in their states. Why not?

For his part, Maine governor Paul LePage today said it’s about taxes, warning against paying the “new Gestapo” – the Internal Revenue Service – then compounded that bit of irrationality by Not-Apologizing, saying, “It was never intended to offend anyone and if someone’s offended, then they ought to be goddamn mad at the federal government.” And as Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal put it only slightly more sanely on Meet the Press, the priority shouldn’t be the law which could aid thousands of the residents of his state – one of the poorest in the country – afford health insurance. No, their priority should be electing Mitt Romney.

Rhetoric like that is par for the course with Jindal, who years ago dissed the stimulus all while he was busy handing out jumbo-sized ceremonial stimulus checks to communities all throughout Louisiana, smiling, and taking the credit. That hypocrisy hasn’t slowed him down in the least, but Jindal’s lack of shame pales in comparison that displayed yesterday by Texas governor Rick Perry. At lease Jindal seems to think that there is a health care problem, and that Romney can magically fix it by repealing the ACA. Perry doesn’t seem to believe there’s a problem at all.

Perry announced yesterday that he is rejecting the Medicaid expansion, and refuses to implement the insurance exchanges the ACA mandates. He said in a statement about the officially constitutional “Obamacare”:

“I will not be party to socializing health care and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government.”

Yeah, forget what the Supreme Court says, right? This is particularly egregious, not because Perry is making up what is in the Constitution, what is socialism and what isn’t. Forget the mildly amusing alarmist rhetoric – this political decision being made by Perry is newsworthy given that Texas is uniquely horrible at providing health care for its residents, and this law could help. Per Talking Points Memo:

One in four Texans are uninsured, the highest rate of any state. The Medicaid expansion would cover 49.4 percent of uninsured Texans by 2019, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The program is broadened to cover Americans within 133 percent of the poverty line — currently the eligibility for a working Texan parent cuts off at 27 percent. The federal government will cover the full cost of the first three years and pay 90 percent thereafter.

The report I cite for those statistics also reports on exactly why Perry is refusing to do this. Unlike Jindal, he’s not waiting for Romney to pull a Mighty Mouse (or an Andy Kaufman) in November. He doesn’t believe the problem even exists. Or better yet, that it’s made up by people who don’t like Texas.

This is how he responded to a challenge from Fox Newsyes, you read that correctly – on why he’s doing this. Perry then likened Medicaid to the Titanic, then said something that truly unfathomable, even for him:

“We’ve got some of the finest health care in the world,” he said [about Texas]. “So the idea that this federal government, which doesn’t like Texas to begin with, to pick and choose and come up with some data and say somehow Texas has the worst health care system in the world is just fake and false on its face.”

It’s one thing to expect Mitt Romney to clean up the mess. Quite another for the guy in charge of the largest mess to assert that there is no mess at all, and that any assertion that there is a mess is “fake and false on its face.” The governor has no clothes.

Melissa’s look at governors opting not to recognize the health-care reform law is below.

Rick Perry rejects health reform, reality

Updated