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Governors agree there’s no turning back on health law

Leaders from both parties say it is time to move on

The White House reported that 1 million people signed up nationwide for private insurance under the health law in January alone.

Pool/Getty Images

The White House reported that 1 million people signed up nationwide for private insurance under the health law in January alone.

WASHINGTON — The explosive politics of health care have divided the nation, but America’s governors, Republicans and Democrats alike, suggest that President Obama’s health care overhaul is here to stay.

While governors from Connecticut to Louisiana sparred on Sunday over how best to improve the nation’s economy, governors of both parties shared a far more pragmatic outlook on the controversial program known as ‘‘Obama-care’’ as millions of their constituents begin to be covered.

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‘‘We’re just trying to make the best of a bad situation,’’ said Terry Branstad of Iowa, a Republican who calls the health care law ‘‘unaffordable and unsustainable,’’ yet something he has to implement by law. ‘‘We’re trying to make it work as best we can for the people of Iowa.’’

As governors gathered in Washington this weekend, Democratic governors such as Maryland’s Martin O’Malley and Connecticut’s Dannel Malloy made pitches to raise the minimum wage, while Republican governors such as Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and Indiana’s Mike Pence called for more freedom from federal regulations, particularly those related to the health insurance overhaul.

But governors from both parties reported that a full repeal of the law would be complicated at best, if not impossible, as states move forward with implementation and begin covering millions of people — both by expanding Medicaid rolls for lower-income resident or through state or federal exchanges that offer federal subsidies to those who qualify.

Republican opposition to the law is the centerpiece of the GOP’s political strategy ahead of the midterm elections. And to be sure, not every GOP leader embraced the inevitability of the law’s implementation.

‘‘I don’t think that it’s so deeply entrenched that it can’t be repealed,’’ Jindal said. ‘‘But I do think, as we argue for repeal, we have to show folks what you replace it with.’’

Despite a troubled rollout, nearly 3.3 million people have signed up through Feb. 1 for health care coverage under the law.

The White House reported that 1 million people signed up nationwide for private insurance under the law in January alone. It remains unclear that the administration will reach its unofficial goal of 7 million people by the end of March, but it still expects several million enrollees by then.

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