President Obama Tells Governors He Supports State Innovation on Healthcare Reform


    I presume that Bob McDonnell, Ken Cuccinelli et al. will grab this olive branch from President Obama.

    states need flexibility to tailor their approach to their unique needs is why part of the law says that, beginning in 2017, if you can come up with a better system for your state to provide coverage of the same quality and affordability as the Affordable Care Act, you can take that route instead.  That portion of the law has not been remarked on much.  It says by 2017, if you have a better way of doing it, help yourself, go ahead, take that route.

    Now, some folks have said, well, that’s not soon enough.  So a few weeks ago, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat, and Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, a Republican, and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, they proposed legislation that would accelerate that provision.  So it would allow states to apply for such a waiver by 2014 instead of 2017.

    I think that’s a reasonable proposal.  I support it.  It will give you flexibility more quickly, while still guaranteeing the American people reform.  If your state can create a plan that covers as many people as affordably and comprehensively as the Affordable Care Act does — without increasing the deficit  — you can implement that plan.  And we’ll work with you to do it.  I’ve said before, I don’t believe that any single party has a monopoly on good ideas.  And I will go to bat for whatever works, no matter who or where it comes from.

    As the New York Times reports, “the so-called state innovation waivers in the Wyden-Brown bill might allow a state to experiment with ways to entice people to obtain insurance rather than requiring them to buy policies,” including even “a single-payer system in which the government is the sole insurer,” as Vermont is now doing. Here in Virginia, perhaps we could implement a single-payer system as well (yeah, I know, dream on as long as Republican’ts are in charge!), or perhaps a robust public option (ditto). It’s probably worth reminding people that almost all independent analysts believe the public option would help “bend the cost curve” and reduce the deficit, while giving people more choices in health care coverage than the private, healthcare-for-profit insurance companies offer. Alternatively, Republicans could try out some of their great ideas on healthcare reform…uh, that is, if they’ve got any (right now, Can’tor, BONER et al. seem to have the “repeal” but not “replace” part of “repeal and replace” down cold). Anyway, I can’t wait to hear Bob McDonnell eagerly and enthusiastically embrace this bipartisan legislation by Scott Brown and Ron Wyden, now endorsed by President Obama. Heh.

    P.S. This is an opportunity for McDonnell to move away from the “states’ rights” and neo-secessionists in his party, and instead to embrace a more serious, sane concept of “federalism” wherein states serve as the “laboratories of Democracy” they were intended to be.

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