Bobby Jindal, other Republicans embrace Obamacare

Washington, Nov 18 (IANS) Just ten days after the elections, governors of several Republican ruled states led by Louisiana's Indian American governor Bobby Jindal are all set to embrace, albeit reluctantly, President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.

Jindal as also Rick Perry in Texas, John Kasich in Ohio and Scott Walker in Wisconsin among others are about to invite the federal government to set up a health insurance exchange in their states under the law they derided as "Obamacare" not long ago, according to influential news site Politico.

"These Republican governors, and more than a dozen others in red states around the country, have decided it's better to have Obamacare forced on them than to legitimise it by setting up their own exchanges, even if that means empowering the federal government at the expense of the states," the news site focused on politics said.

"It's a stick in the eye of a just re−elected president," Politico said. "and an indication that some Republican governors have no intention of backing down just because" Obama won another four years.

Jindal,who has been elected chairman of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), told the Huffington Post that while he's not going to set up an exchange, he hopes that Obama's second term will bring more cooperation between the federal government and the states on a range of health care issues.

"We are certainly going to go to the president and give him a chance to actually be bipartisan and give him a chance to give us the flexibility to bring more market−based competition and ideas into health care programmes, and I hope he'll work with us to do that," Jindal said.

But Maine Governor Paul LePage, as cited by Politico, told Bloomberg this week "I'm not lifting a finger. We're not going to get involved. We're going to let Mr. Obama do a federal exchange. It's his bill."

By late Friday, 19 states had indicated they would let the federal government run their exchanges − most of which went to defeated Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Another 11 states were officially undeclared, while 20 states and the capital city of Washington had announced they would set up exchanges partially or fully run by their states.

The Republican governors of several big states, including Florida's Rick Scott, New Jersey's Chris Christie and Arizona's Jan Brewer, remain in the undecided column, Politico reported.

That may have factored into federal health officials' decision to postpone Friday's planned deadline for signing up until mid−December, the Politico said noting the RGA had asked for the extension,

Most Democratic states, including California, New York and Illinois, will either set up their own independent exchanges or partner with the federal government to begin establishing them.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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