Tea party activists in states around the country are making real gains in blocking Obamacare even as the national debate centers on a stalled effort to repeal it in Congress. They’re doing it by blocking the law’s implementation in state legislatures, according to Politico
. In South Carolina and other states, tea party activists have been forcing Republican co-sponsors of a health exchange bill to turn against it.
Battles have centered on health reform’s exchanges, the new insurance marketplaces that must come online by 2014. If states do not have the framework in place for an exchange by 2013, Health and Human Services will come into the state and do the jobs themselves.
In Montana, a legislator who ran on a tea party platform has successfully blocked multiple health exchange bills, persuading his colleagues to instead move forward with legislation that would specifically bar the state from setting up a marketplace, Politico reports.
Tea party protests also forced Gov. Nathan Deal in Georgia to shelve exchange legislation that the Legislature had worked on for months.
The moves have buoyed some Obamacare opponents, who believe that state governments cannot fight the bill in court on one hand while trying to implement it on the other.
“I have seen an uptick in resistance to creating Obamacare exchanges at the state level and that’s heartening,” says Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies for the Cato Institute. “There remains this inherent contradiction where you have governors saying they think Obamacare is unconstitutional but also trying to implement the law. One thing these tea party groups are doing is highlighting that.”
Montana state Sen. Jason Priest, a Republican who ran on a tea party platform, has emerged as Lindeen’s main opponent. He’s introduced legislation both to compel Lindeen to send a health exchange grant back to Washington and to force Democratic Attorney General Steve Bullock to join a health reform lawsuit.
“One of the things we keep coming back to is that the idea of a Montana-made exchange is complete fiction,” Priest told Politico. “You’re implementing a federal mandate, with federal specifications that the federal government will certify. There’s nothing Montana-made about it.”
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