ObamaCare Cash? Tim Pawlenty Says "No Thanks"


Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who may or may not (wink, nudge, wink) be running for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, is telling state agencies not to go after any of the new discretionary federal health care funds created by the PPACA.

Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty Tuesday ordered all state agencies to not to submit applications to any health care funding from the federal government related to the health care overhaul.

Any applications must be either required by law or approved by the governor's office.

Pawlenty, who appears to be gearing up for a run for president in 2012, has long decried the health care overhaul, which opponents call Obamacare, and has pledged to join a lawsuit to undo it.

"Obamacare is an intrusion by the federal government into personal health care matters and it's an explosion of federal spending that does nothing to make health care more affordable," Pawlenty said in a news release.

As a political move, this suggests how much Republicans are likely counting on making a fight out of ObamaCare in 2012. A lot of Democrats hoped support for the law would rebound enough that it would help them in 2010, but at this point, that doesn't seem likely. Now, some Republicans seem to be betting that the reverse will be true during the next couple election cycles. It's not just Pawlenty, either. For another example, see the race for the GOP nomination in the Florida governor's race, which pitted Rick Scott, who had spent millions on advertisements opposing the health care overhaul, against Attorney General Bill McCollum, who is leading the multi-state lawsuit against the PPACA.

And, as we're starting to see, those political bets are going to have policy consequences. Implementing a bill as unwieldy as the PPACA was bound to be a complex, frustrating process. But because the law relies heavily on state governments for implementation, and because, as we've already seen with the various suits challenging the law's constitutionality, a number of those state governments are led by politicians who would like to see the law struck down, the implementation phase for this law is going to be especially messy.

For more on the challenges to implementing the health care overhaul at the state level, check out my feature on ObamaCare and the states in Reason's current print edition.