ACA gets bipartisan support after all

ACA GETS BIPARTISAN SUPPORT AFTER ALL…. Last fall, particularly in September and October, Democrats worked furiously to get Republican support for their health care reform package. Dems thought they had at least some shot at bipartisanship when even leading House Republicans said they agreed with “80 percent” of the Democratic proposal.

The point, of course, was to help with public perceptions — Americans were far more likely to support the reform effort if they saw members of both parties embracing it. Republicans were well aware of this dynamic, which is why they demanded unanimous opposition, whether it made sense or not.

As a result, the Affordable Care Act is considered a partisan endeavor, despite Democratic efforts to incorporate GOP ideas, and despite the fact that the plan is very much in line with what moderate Republicans supported up until fairly recently. GOP intransigence means the Affordable Care Act is a “Democratic plan.”

But now that it’s law, the reform plan is starting to pick up some Republican backers.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed the health reform law on Thursday and vowed that his state would not fight it. […]

Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius praised the governor’s support in a statement released before the governor even made his announcement…. “As the governor of the largest state in the union, Governor Schwarzenegger supports the goals of the Affordable Care Act which will give Californians and other Americans more control over their own health care,” Sebelius said.

Schwarzenegger is the first Republican governor to endorse the ACA, and his support makes it just a little easier for the law’s proponents to characterize the effort, particularly in the midterms, as an initiative that “enjoys backing from both parties.”

And it’s not just the California governor. This week, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) spoke at the American Hospital Association’s annual meeting and said of the new law, “I like the bill.” The comments came on the heels of Frist saying in a separate speech, “From a justice, fairness and equity standpoint, I’m very proud of this administration and that America has addressed this.”

As long as we’re on the subject, let’s also note that Mark McClellan, a Bush administration veteran who headed the FDA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, also recently praised the new law.

This matters to the extent that the Republican establishment would prefer to characterize health care reform as a stark, partisan conflict — Democrats approve of the new law, but the rest of the country doesn’t. But as support slowly grows, the repeal push loses steam, and high-profile Republicans decide the Affordable Care Act isn’t really “Armageddon” after all, the conservative pitch gets more difficult.