OLYMPIA – In a world of e-mails and Twitter tweets, it’s usually nice to get a real letter. Except, maybe, if it’s a letter telling you to do something that you’ve already said you aren’t gonna do, or not do something you’ve said you will.
This is the case with the letter that U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, and a cohort of other Republican senators and congresspersons, sent to Gov. Chris Gregoire, urging her and her 49 fellow governors to “join us in resisting a centralized government approach to health care reform.” . . .
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. . . Specifically, the letter says, don’t set up a state health care exchange “mandated under the President’s discredited health care law.”
That law, which supporters call the Affordable Care Act and detractors “Obamacare”, has been in the news a bit recently, what with the U.S. Supreme Court weighing in on its constitutionality and all. A health care exchange, for those whose eyes glaze over at the mention of the law’s details, is something that would help individuals and businesses shop for a good health insurance plan on the Internet, much the way they shop for a plane ticket on Expedia or Orbitz or any of a half dozen other websites.
There is probably no law that better proves Washington and Idaho are two very different states divided by a common border than the Affordable Care Act. Idaho said essentially “Hell, no!” to setting up an exchange during this year’s session; Washington said “Youbetcha!” then held out its hand for the money the feds promised to those who got in line early. And got $128 million, which even by congressional standards is not chump change.
Idaho Republicans are still hard on the trail of repealing the act. In Washington, the Republican who would very much like to be Gregoire’s replacement, Attorney General Rob McKenna, says it’s time to stop talking about wholesale repeal and make adjustments to things that don’t work. This from a guy who was among the first-in on one of the lawsuits that went to the Supremes.
Also telling: While Washington has four Republicans in the House, none apparently was interested in signing on to the letter authored by Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Rep. Michele Bachman of Minnesota. Even Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who a few months ago told GOP compatriots in the Legislature to hold off on the health exchange, didn’t add her Joan Hancock.
Gregoire, who’s in the United Kingdom on a trade mission, hadn’t seen the letter on Friday, but couldn't have been more dismissive if she had placed her tongue between her lips and blown a raspberry into the phone receiver. The senders don’t seem to have an alternative, she said during a telephonic press conference, and “doing nothing is not a solution.” Going back to the way things were before the Affordable Care Act is not an option for Washington, she added:
“We’re going full speed ahead.”
It would be tempting to say Labrador et al could have saved a stamp, but the U.S. Postal Service probably can use the money.