Of the 13 states that have so far said they will allow consumers to renew canceled plans, all but four are led by Republican governors and have generally been opposed to the new health care law. Of the eight that have said they will not carry out the policy, six are in Democratic-led states, many of which have actively worked to put the law into effect and have argued that allowing such an extension could undermine its success. They include New York, which announced its decision on Tuesday, and Massachusetts. Many other states, including California and New Jersey, are still weighing their options.
The immediate cynical reaction to this story would be to read it as another attempt to hobble the Affordable Care Act. Since many industry experts are predicting the “fix” will further destabilize the insurance marketplaces, it would make sense for those to oppose to the law to make sure the fix goes through. The Democratic resistance to the fix could then be read as an attempt to protect the law from further crises—all while giving Obama the ability tamp down public opposition with a toothless fix his supporters won’t enforce.But it turns out something even more complicated is going on. An under-reported fact about Obama’s fix is that, in fact, states already had some ability to extend plans slated for cancellations. Many Republican-led states had already given the go-ahead for plan extensions even before Obama encouraged everyone to do so, including Florida, Oklahoma, Utah, Mississippi, and New Mexico. As a result, those states experienced less disruptions and cancellations than the rest of America.In an ironic twist, it turns out that the states who best kept Obama’s “like it, keep it” promise were GOP-led. On the state-level at least Republican governments have been doing the very thing ACA supporters have claimed no conservatives have been doing: working to improve the law and its rollout.