Editorial: A governor’s legacy — For Bentley, history shows how wayward ideologies are tough to shed
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Oct 01, 2013 | 2952 views |  0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
During the 2010 campaign for governor, candidate Robert Bentley made no secret of his views on the president’s health-care reform plan.

He hated it.

It was, in his words,”The single worst piece of legislation to come out of Congress.”

Such was the tone of the 2010 election in Alabama and elsewhere. No Alabama Republican was going to be punished for saying something bad about Obamacare.

Of course, the campaign ended and the times called instead for smart policy from Gov. Bentley, the sort that puts aside ideology and personal biases in favor of doing what’s best for his entire state.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. Bentley’s overheated campaign rhetoric has been matched by anti-Obamacare policies.

Recently, he reiterating his opposition, telling al.com, “My long-term goal is to resist the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and I believe we are going to succeed in that,” Bentley said.

That’s some goal there, governor.

Had he not resisted Obamacare, Bentley could have helped 300,000 Alabamians gain health insurance by setting up a state-run health exchange and expanding Medicaid. Not only that, he could have paid for almost all of it with federal dollars.

Nope, says the governor, Medicaid is “broken” and thus shouldn’t be expanded as Obamacare allows.

In other words, Bentley is willing to let his ideology stand in the way of a policy that was duly passed in Congress, signed by the president, vetted by the Supreme Court and, despite temper tantrums by congressional Republicans, is being rolled-out.

Love it, hate it or feel ambivalent about it, Obamacare is a fact of life.

Consider the words of another governor whose “state ranks among the worst, if not the worst, in almost every major health category, including smoking, cancer deaths, preventable hospitalizations, premature death, heart disease and diabetes.”

He writes for The New York Times, “We need big solutions with the potential for transformational change.

“The Affordable Care Act is one of those solutions.”

So wrote Gov. Steve Beshear, Kentucky’s Democratic governor, of the 308,000 Kentucky residents gaining coverage thanks to Obamacare.

Let’s imagine those 300,000 Alabamians Bentley is trying to keep from gaining Obamacare-based coverage. See them overspilling the governor’s office. See them marching through the streets of Montgomery. These are hard-working men and women who are one medical hardship away from financial ruin.

We find it difficult to believe the governor, who is a physician and a man of deep religious faith, could look into the faces of the uninsured and deny them something as basic as health insurance.

Could he possibly tell them his “no” is because of a “long-term goal” of resisting “the implementation of the Affordable Care Act?” Is his ideology more important than their personal well-being?

Alabama’s past is littered with governors who made it their “long-term goal” to resist one national policy or another, from equal voting rights to integrating public schools to worker rights and so on. We’ll remind Bentley that besides ultimately failing to resist the progress of this nation, the legacies of each of these predecessors is weighed down by embarrassing shame.
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