Inside This Issue - News
Obama shows flexibility on health care reform
March 14th, 2011
WASHINGTON – In a proposal that could appease some critics of federal health care reform, President Obama says he will support moving up the timetable in which states may opt out of the law.
Speaking before the National Governors Association, the president said that he would approve allowing states to opt out of the Affordable Care Act by 2014 if they could offer health care coverage for as many people as they would under the law without increasing the deficit. Under the original law, states could not opt out until 2017.
But 2014 is the year when many of the most important provisions of the bill — including the so-called "individual mandate" requiring all people to buy health insurance — go into effect.
The new opt-out provision was first proposed by a bipartisan group of senators that included Sen. Scott Brown (R., Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D., Ore.).
“I think that’s a reasonable proposal. I support it,” Obama told governors of both parties.
The White House insists that Obama’s remarks are unrelated to those who have questioned the constitutionality of the mandate, a decision that many say will ultimately rest with the Supreme Court.
To date, a number of federal judges have issued contradictory decisions that are now under various stages of appeal.
Under Brown and Wyden’s proposal, qualifying states can ask to circumvent minimum benefit levels, structural requirements for health insurance exchanges, and the mandates that most individuals obtain health insurance coverage and that most employers provide it. The federal government would then help finance a state’s individual health plan with monies that otherwise would be spent on insurance subsidies and tax credits.
Public opinion polls generally show that Americans remain divided over the health care act, which is designed to insure the estimated 32 million individuals who currently lack health insurance coverage. Generally, those polls indicate that only a minority of people want the entire act repealed.
And a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds that 22% of Americans incorrectly believe the law has already been repealed.