Friday (April 30) was the deadline for states to decide whether to opt into a new federal health insurance pool for high-risk patients — or whether to cover those patients themselves.
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm accepted the invitation, calling the high-risk pool "a first step in providing health care coverage for those who currently don't have any," The New York Times reported . Granholm joined officials from other Democratic-led states, including Iowa , Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin, in welcoming the federal program.
Some Republicans saw Friday's deadline as a different kind of first step, though. The high-risk pool is "the first step in the recently enacted federal takeover of the United States health care system," Georgia's insurance commissioner, who is running for governor as a Republican, told The Times . Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota , Nebraska, Nevada and Texas are among the states that declined federal help.
Overall, "most Democratic governors signed on, while most Republicans refused," The Record of Bergen County (N.J.) reported .
Several governors bucked their parties, however — or, in Charlie Crist's case, their former parties. The Florida governor, who last week decided to run for U.S. Senate not as a Republican but as an independent, said he would accept federal help. " Unfortunately Florida is not in a position to authorize new financial obligations," he said, according to The Miami Herald .
New Jersey's Republican governor, Chris Christie, also opted in .
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made perhaps the biggest splash on the Republican side of the aisle, not only opting into the high-risk pool but issuing a broad statement of support for the larger health care overhaul, The Los Angeles Times reported . "The bottom line is this: If national health care reform is going to succeed, it has to be a partnership with the states," Schwarzenegger said. "I am directing my administration to move forward."
At least one Democratic governor chose not to seek federal help for the high-risk pool. Wyoming's Dave Freudenthal told The Times he was worried that the state's allotment of federal money, about $8 million, "may prove insufficient."