Obama Backs State Flexibility With Health Law Mandates

In remarks Monday to the National Governors Association, President Barack Obama told governors that he supports moving up to 2014 from 2017 the date when states could get waivers to create their own plans to reach the federal insurance coverage goals set in the health overhaul.

NPR: Obama To Governors: Opt Out Of Health Law If You Can Do Better
President Obama is moving to quell a rebellion among the ranks of the nation's governors, who want more of a say in how billions of dollars in shared health care dollars are spent (Rovner, 2/28).

The New York Times: Obama Backs Easing State Health Law Mandates
President Obama, who has stood by his landmark health care law through court attacks and legislative efforts to repeal it, told the nation's governors on Monday that he was willing to amend the measure to give states the ability to opt out of its most controversial requirements right from the start, including the mandate that most people buy insurance (Stolberg and Sack, 2/28).

Los Angeles Times: Obama Offers Governors Some Flexibility On Health Care Law
Offering increased flexibility to the nation's governors, President Obama announced Monday that he supported changing the 2010 health care law to allow states to move sooner to develop their own alternative plans to expand coverage (Levey, 2/28).

The Washington Post: Obama Offers States More Flexibility In Health Care Law
President Obama sought to defuse criticism of the new health care overhaul Monday by saying he is willing to give states an earlier opportunity to opt out of certain key requirements — but only if they can find their own ways to accomplish the law's goals (Goldstein and Balz, 3/1).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Offers Skeptical Governors Bigger Role Under The Health Law
President Barack Obama on Monday backed a bill in Congress to let states design their own ways to expand insurance coverage sooner under the health care overhaul, in a nod to governors' complaints that federal rules are too rigid (Adamy, 3/1).

USA Today: Obama Backs Giving States Leeway On Health Care
President Obama's willingness to let states design their own health care systems while meeting key federal goals as early as 2014 represents a challenge to Republican governors and lawmakers opposed to the federal law (Wolf and Jackson, 2/28).

McClatchy: Obama Offers To Help Governors On Health Care Costs
Looking for some goodwill from the nation's governors, President Barack Obama said Monday that he's willing to bend a bit to help them deal with their budgetary problems stemming from health care costs — and the political heat rising from his 2010 law to expand health care. Obama, addressing governors in town for the National Governors Association, said he supports a move to let states design their own health care systems starting in 2014 with waivers from provisions of his 2010 Affordable Care Act, so long as those state systems meet his law's goals. The existing law wouldn't allow state waivers until 2017 (Talev, 2/28).

The Boston Globe: Obama Back Brown's Bill Tempering Health Care Rule
Displaying his willingness to compromise on one of the most controversial aspects of the overhaul, the president's move appeared on its face to give states far more freedom to shape the law to their own needs. Obama was endorsing a concept that has been proposed by Senator Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts, in a bipartisan bill filed with Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon (Emery, 3/1).

Christian Science Monitor: How Big Is Obama's Concession?
Mr. Obama indeed may be ceding some ground to critics. However, the longer answer is "yes, but ..." What Obama called for Monday is not so much a change in the existing law as an acceleration of something that was going to happen already (Grier, 2/28).

National Journal: Obama Throws His Own Health Care Law A Lifeline
Throwing a lifeline to his signature health care reform law, which is under attack in the courts and in Congress, President Obama told governors today he supports a proposal to give states more flexibility to determine how they provide health insurance to their uninsured residents. Under the current law, states could opt out of the requirement mandating they establish insurance exchanges if they demonstrate that they can provide coverage to the same number of people. Those waivers will be available in 2017. Obama now supports a congressional proposal, co-sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Scott Brown, R-Mass., to allow states to opt out beginning in 2014, the year that the exchanges would kick in. Last week, the administration said it would loosen restrictions on state Medicaid programs if they were significantly contributing to state budget deficits (Ambinder, 2/28).

The Hill: Liberals See Open Door For Public Option, Single-Payer Health Care
Liberals say President Obama's support for accelerating state waivers for the health care reform law creates new opportunity for the federal government to back more liberal health care policies rejected during past debate over the reform law. Obama on Monday endorsed a Senate bill that allows states to seek earlier exemptions from the reform law in order to build their own health care systems that meet the law's coverage and affordability goals. The federal law currently provides the waiver option in 2017, but Obama is backing a bill from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) that would move the date up to 2014 (Millman, 2/28).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.