Obama Backs Bill That Would Move Up Healthcare Opt-Out Date For States

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Obama backs bill that would move up healthcare opt-out date for StatesPresident Barack Obama has pledged his support for a bipartisan bill that would grant States more flexibility in implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In his Feb. 28 address to governors at the White House, the President endorsed legislation crafted by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) that would allow States to create their own healthcare laws to meet the goals set forth in Obamacare. The bulk of the reform, including the individual mandate, is scheduled to go into effect in 2014, and States wouldn't be able to apply for waivers until 2017.

The Waiver for State Innovation Act, if approved, would move the opt-out option up to 2014, providing States with the flexibility to draft their own plans. The healthcare proposals must, however, demonstrate that they will cover as many people — and must be as comprehensive and affordable — as the Federal law.

According to media reports, some governors were not pleased with Obama's announcement and claimed that it was a publicity stunt. They said that the expansion of Medicaid in 2014, regardless of how the law is revamped or reworded, will inevitably handcuff State legislators.

"I was disappointed," said Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, quoted by the Los Angeles Times. "Pretty much all he did was reset the clock on what many of us consider to be a ticking time bomb that is absolutely going to crush our State budgets. The States need more than that."

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