Pawlenty’s Obamacare Purity Gets a Little Less Pure

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has been making a show out of resisting implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the funding for states contained within. He’s not the only one, but his resistance has been noteworthy, in part, because of his presumed ambition to be the GOP nominee for president in 2012. If he does pursue the nomination, he could be up against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whose embrace of similar health reform at the state level could be a political liability in 2012.

Well, this week Pawlenty finally buckled, as the state opted in to a $5 billion ACA program to help insure early retirees. Loads of other organizations in Minnesota have already applied for the funding, but state workers were included on Oct. 27.

Pawlenty issued an executive order in August barring state agencies from applying for funds or grants made available by the ACA. The reason, according to the text of the executive order, was that the ACA is “a dramatic attempt to assert federal command” authorizing “unprecedented federal intrusions,” “intended to speed the transition to federally-controlled health care.” The executive order was issued to maintain the “boundary between state and federal government.”

The governor’s spokesman tells Politico that Pawlenty opted in to the early retiree program “in order to cut state spending.” That’s a worthy enough goal – and it’s one that could be achieved with the early retiree funding – but taking the funding still allows federal control over health insurance for some Minnesota state workers. So it seems that federal-state “boundary” Pawlenty was so bent on preserving is worth end-running if it helps the state’s bottom line.

(h/t Sarah Kliff of Politico)