Governors (And Candidates) Span Spectrum On Public Option Opt-Out

Pete Souza - White House via CNP/Newscom
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It’s been two days since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced a health care bill with a public option that will allow states to opt-out.

As TPMDC wrote earlier, we still don’t know the mechanism for how the states would get out (or in, if that were to happen) of the public option, but we took stock of some of the candidates for governor in Tuesday’s races.

Our question: Would your state opt out of a public option?

The basic tally:

In New Jersey, Gov. Jon Corzine (D) would not. Challenger Chris Christie (R) would.

In Virginia, Bob McDonnell (R) would opt out and Creigh Deeds (D) is leaning toward opting out.McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin told me:

“Bob McDonnell does not support nationalized heath care. As a result, he does not support Virginia’s participation in a federal public health insurance system. As governor he would opt Virginia out of such a system.

Bob strongly supports promoting access to affordable healthcare. He believes that expanding and improving health care coverage lies in market based principles, not mandating a nationalized system that restricts choices, limits options and diminishes quality. Rather than centralizing control of health care at the federal level, or saddling Virginia businesses and workers with new mandates to pay for plans the government thinks they want, he believes we should let individuals and families control their health care decisions.”

Corzine spokeswoman Lis Smith told Eric:

“Governor Corzine has been an outspoken supporter of the public option. He would not opt out of it, as the public option is a critical piece of making health reform sustainable and holding private health insurance companies accountable.”

Christie’s folks didn’t respond to questions but in a debate the Republican candidate said he would work to expand private insurance.

“If I were given the choice, I would not expand or opt into a public option,” he said.

We’re starting to tally everyone, but here are a few early opinions.

Count Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) out. He told Fox News the plan “really a sham. It’s a masquerade and it’s something that’s very, very, I think, disingenuous and very cynical.”

We asked a spokesman for Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D), who was one of just six Democratic governors who did not sign a bland letter calling for health care reform.

Spokesman Jack Cardetti responded without really answering the question:

Gov. Nixon believes that the status quo is simply not acceptable when it comes to health care.

The governor has been making his case that Congress must address this issue in a smart way that lowers premiums for families, provides greater access to care, and doesn’t place unreasonable unfunded mandates on state governments during tough fiscal times. The administration will continue to monitor health care reform as it moves through the legislative process.

Here’s Pawlenty on Fox – he also offers praise for Sen. Joe Liberman.

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