President Obama Changes Position on Health Care Mandates

“Instead of refighting the battles of the last two years, let’s fix what needs fixing and let’s move forward.”

Those were the words of President Obama in his State of The Union address at the end of January, and today, the President signaled just how much he was willing to listen, comprimise, or adopt new policies that he hopes will accomplish the “fix.” Today, President Obama spoke with governors at a White House meeting and told them that he was willing to allow states to withdraw from the controversial mandate requirement in 2014 instead of 2017, if they could prove that they can insure the same amount of people the original Health Care Reform did, at the same cost.

“I think that’s a reasonable proposal; I support it, it will give you flexibility more quickly while still guaranteeing the American people reform.”

According to reporting from The New York Times;

The bipartisan amendment that Mr. Obama is now embracing was first proposed in November, eight months after enactment of the Affordable Care Act, by Senators Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, and Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts. Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, a Democrat, is now a co-sponsor.

The legislation would allow states to opt out earlier from various requirements if they could demonstrate that other methods would allow them to cover as many people, with insurance that is as comprehensive and affordable, as provided by the new law. The changes also must not increase the federal deficit.

If states can meet those standards, they can ask to circumvent minimum benefit levels, structural requirements for insurance exchanges and the mandates that most individuals obtain coverage and that employers provide it. Washington would then help finance a state’s individualized health care system with federal money that would otherwise be spent there on insurance subsidies and tax credits.

“It seemed to make sense that rather than have states invest in a system that may not be best for them, you change the date to 2014 from 2017 and give them the flexibility to design it,” said one of several administration officials who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly before the president. “But it’s clear that states must do a number of things to qualify for a waiver.”

The Health Care Reform passed by a Democratic controlled congress in 2010 divided the country along party lines, with most Democrats in favor of reform and most Republicans against. The White House and Democrats have admitted fault and have taken responsibility  now for  explaining to Americans the benefits of reform. And with the mis-representation of many parts of the law, many Americans are still advocating a total repeal of the bill, a promise that House Republicans have made and seemed determined to do. In reality however, repeal will not happen because of a Democratic controlled senate, and a promise of a veto if the bill makes it to the President’s desk.

Read the rest of The New York Times report here.

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