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Nation/World

November 15, 2012

Republican-led states seem to be warming up to health care law

WASHINGTON — From the South to the heartland, cracks are appearing in the once-solid wall of Republican resistance to President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Ahead of a federal deadline today for states to declare their intentions, Associated Press reporters interviewed governors and state officials around the country, finding surprising openness to the changes in some cases. Opposition persists in others, and there is a widespread, urgent desire for answers on key unresolved details.

The law that Republicans have derided as “Obamacare” was devised in Washington, but it’s in the states that Americans will find out if it works, delivering promised coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people.

States have a major role to play in two of the overhaul’s main components: new online insurance markets for individuals and small businesses to shop for subsidized private coverage, and an expanded Medicaid program for low-income people.

Today is the day states must declare if they’ll build the new insurance markets, called exchanges, or let Washington do it for them. States can also opt for a partnership with the feds to run their exchanges, and they have until February to decide on that option.

Some glimpses of grudging acceptance across a shifting scene:

One of the most visible opponents of Obama’s overhaul, Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott, now says “if I can get to ‘yes,’ I want to get to ‘yes.’”

Florida was a leader in the failed effort to overturn the law in the Supreme Court, and a group formed by Scott ran TV ads opposing it before it passed Congress. But the governor told the AP this week he wants to negotiate with the federal government to try to help the nearly 4 million uninsured people in his state.

In Iowa, GOP Gov. Terry Branstad says he is postponing a decision because Washington has not provided enough information about key details. But his spokesman, Tim Albrecht, said Iowa is exploring a partnership exchange that could include several states.

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