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 for states to declare their intentions that had been scheduled for today, governors and state officials around the country showed 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.
Thursday evening, the Obama administration granted states a month's extension, until Dec. 14. Sixteen states remain in the undecided column.
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.
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.
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 said 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's spokesman, Tim Albrecht, said Iowa is exploring a partnership exchange that could include several states. Albrecht said they're confident they can get to a state option if needed.
Ohio is leaning toward a partnership with the federal government despite GOP officials' continued misgivings.
Policy experts in Washington are noticing the shift.