The study released Friday says that the rhetoric of both Republican and Democratic governors is "disingenuous" regarding Obamacare because "electoral forces (not principles such as liberty or empathy) drive elected officials' positions on health care," according to a news release.
Brookings Fellow John Hudak's study is titled "Give Me Liberty or At Least Your Vote: A Study of Governors Alturism on Health Care."
Hudak notes that 14 of the 19 states with higher-than-average rates of uninsured are led by GOP governors, including Idaho, which ranks 17th highest with 17 percent uninsured. Nine GOP governors have said they will refuse to expand Medicaid rolls and six more are considering opting out of expansion. Ten of those 15 are from states with higher rates of uninsured.
Hudak writes that Democratic governors, including those who moved to implement the law, often come from states with low rates of uninsured, meaning lower proportions of their electorates would be forced to buy insurance or face a penalty that Chief Justice John Roberts considers a tax.
"In a basic way, Republican and Democratic governors are not putting principle before politics," Hudak writes. "Instead, they are capitalizing on the politics of health care and appealing to the voters most important to their electoral needs. While Republican governors have higher percentages of uninsured in their states, their key voters don’t face the same burden. Conversely, voters critical to Democrats’ electoral fates face dramatically higher uninsured rates. Such a basis for policy support—constituency needs—is certainly not a damning trait. Elected officials are seeking to represent a sufficient percentage of their electorate. However, both sides’ political rhetoric of principle and altruism is disingenuous.Concerns about general health and welfare or of government takeovers are window dressing for political pandering."
Hudak defaults Otter to a "no" on the question of refusing or considering refusing Medicaid expansion in a chart listing states with the highest uninsured rates, but adds a footnote: "Idaho Governor Butch Otter has yet to release a definitive position on the issue of Medicaid expansion."
When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act last week, Otter was on his annual horseback ride with the Idaho Cattle Association. Hours later, his office put out a statement urging repeal of the law: "Although five Supreme Court justices upheld Obamacare and the individual mandate under Congress’s power to tax, it does not mean it’s the right thing to do. Obamacare has been bad for America from the beginning. This is a sad day for self-determination and for individual liberty. Change is now in the hands of the American people and we must elect a new president and congressional candidates who will repeal Obamacare and protect our freedom to remain the architects of our own destiny."
Otter's staff has said the governor isn't inclined to call a special session of the Legislature to deal with the issue of creating a health insurance exchange, a move supported by Blue Cross of Idaho.
I shared the Brookings study with Otter spokesman Jon Hanian this morning. This afternoon, Hanian said an update could soon be in the works. "May have something for you sometime next week…stay tuned," Hanian said in an email.
You can follow Idaho Statesman Politics on Twitter.