Sebelius: ObamaCare is the law of the land, so you might as well help us implement it

Or, in other words: Just give in already to the power of the all-knowing and all-powerful bureaucracy. Trust us.

Last June, the Supreme Court ruled that ObamaCare’s Medicaid mandate (requiring that states expand their programs and provide specified health care to all citizens whose income falls below a certain threshold, or else face losing all prior federal funding) was an unconstitutional “gun to the head” for states’ administrations and budgets, and confirmed their right to opt out without penalty — but that doesn’t mean the Obama administration isn’t applying every type of political pressure and fiscal inducement they can to coerce states into getting on board. As HHS Secretary Sebelius noted yesterday,

President Obama’s health care law is “here to stay,” but cannot fulfill its promise if states do not expand Medicaid and the uninsured do not take advantage of the benefits designed to put coverage within reach of millions more Americans, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Monday.

Addressing the National Health Policy Conference in downtown Washington, Mrs. Sebelius said the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 remains the “law of the land” after the Supreme Court upheld its key provisions in June and Mr. Obama won re-election in November, but several moving parts must sync up before the reforms can be fully effective.

“So my challenge to all of you today, and actually my plea to all of you … is help us speed up the rate of change,” she said.

Ten GOP-led states have already rejected the Obama administration’s bribe to pick up 100 percent of the Medicaid expansion’s tab for the first three years before eventually scaling down to 90 percent by the end of the decade, but twenty other states are still undecided. The red states that have decided to expand Medicaid include New Mexico, North Dakota, Nevada, and Arizona (for which the WSJ has a good explanation of the carrot-and-stick strategy being deployed by the Obama administration). On Monday, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio announced that he would become the fifth Republican governor to give in to the pressure, to the ire of many conservatives:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who opposed President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, wants to take advantage of Obamacare funding to expand his state’s Medicaid program to more poor people, he announced in his budget proposal Monday.

Kasich is now the fifth GOP governor to back the Medicaid expansion, joining Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and fellow GOP leaders in Nevada, New Mexico and North Dakota in agreeing to a key component of Obama’s efforts to extend health coverage to as many as 17 million people through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program over a decade. Including Ohio, the chief executives of 20 states and the District of Columbia are now on board with the Medicaid expansion. …

“We are going to extend Medicaid for the working poor and for those who are jobless trying to find work,” Kasich said at a news conference in Columbus Monday that was broadcast online. “It makes great sense for the state of Ohio because it will allow us to provide greater care with our own dollars.”

As Philip Klein points out in light of the Ohio governor’s decision, it’s getting even harder to stay afloat in a big-government ocean trying to drown you into submission:

Whatever justifications Kasich may give, the actual explanation for his embrace of the Medicaid expansion is political cowardice. Chastened by his failed attempt at public sector union reform and Obama’s victory in the state, Kasich is up for reelection next year. And he’s afraid to stand up to the inevitable onslaught of attacks from Democrats who would charge that he was refusing to accept free money to bring health care to poor Ohioans. The end result is that a politician who ran for office claiming to have been “in the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party” is now actively embracing a policy that the Tea Party movement was born to oppose.

This should serve as a sober reminder to conservatives that no matter how big of a disaster Obamacare is when it’s implemented in 2014, the nation is almost certainly stuck with it. More broadly, it’s a demonstration of how difficult it is to defeat big government.

A feat made especially difficult when said big government is blithely glossing over wherever it is all of this new money is supposed to come from while also steadfastly refusing to acknowledge that our entitlement spending is absolutely the main culprit behind our $16 trillion debt and neglecting to correct the populist impression that ObamaCare is going to provide “free healthcare.” What a nightmare.