President Obama told members of the National Governor's Association that he backs a "reasonable" bill that would allow states to seek waivers from the health care law as soon as 2014, rather than 2017, which is now the earliest date under which they can set up systems different from the federal approach. The waivers would be in effect for five years and could be renewed.
The bill the President referred to is S 248, sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Scott Brown, R-Mass. Obama says the bill would give flexibility more quickly, while still guaranteeing the American people reform. In essence, states that choose to pursue their own paths would never have to implement the overhaul.
Senior administration officials say the states are making good progress on implementation. The alternatives developed by states would still have to provide coverage that is as comprehensive and affordable as that available through the exchanges mandated by the law. And states would have to prove that the same number of residents would be covered as under the federal law.