President Obama announced today he will support efforts in Congress to allow individual states to enhance health care reform as long as they follow certain criteria such as not adding tot he deficit. This effort could advance the enaction of single state single payer. Healthcare4AllPA under Chuck Pennacchio has been trying to pass such legislation here. It could cut local, county and state costs for employee provided health care by billions. The Affordable Care Act requires that no such individual state effort be allowed until 2017. President Obama now supports bringing that down to 2014.
On February 28, President Obama reiterated his belief that States should have the power and flexibility to innovate and find the health care solutions that work best for them and announced his support for accelerating State Innovation Waivers and allowing states to apply for them starting in 2014.
Beginning in 2017, the law allows States the flexibility to receive a State Innovation Waiver so they may pursue their own innovative strategies to ensure their residents have access to high quality, affordable health insurance. These strategies – which must provide affordable insurance coverage to at least as many residents as the Affordable Care Act and must not increase the federal deficit – could include allowing large employers to purchase coverage through State Exchanges or increasing the number of benefit levels to provide more choices for individuals and small businesses.
Under the bipartisan “Empowering States to Innovate Act” introduced by Senators Ron Wyden, Scott Brown, and Mary Landrieu, State Innovation Waivers would be available three years earlier than under current law, so long as States meet certain criteria, including certifying that their proposals would cover at least as many of their residents as the policies in the Affordable Care Act would have covered.
The proposal offers States more flexibility while ensuring that all Americans, no matter where they live have access to affordable, accessible health insurance. Additionally, the proposal includes built-in protections to ensure that these waivers do not increase the Federal budget deficit.
The Affordable Care Act already creates a critical role for States. It provides them with the flexibility and resources necessary to innovate and implement reform in the manner that works best for them. The law has already made nearly $2.8 billion available to states and every State has taken steps – and, in some cases, bold actions – to implement the law and improve health insurance accountability and affordability for their citizens. States can design their own Exchanges, shape their Medicaid programs, and take the lead in enforcing patient protections and reviewing rates increases of private insurers.
Empowering States to Innovate
Under the Affordable Care Act, State Innovation Waivers allow States to propose and test alternative ways to meet the shared goals of making health insurance affordable and accessible to all Americans, including those living with pre-existing conditions. Specifically, State Innovation Waivers are designed to allow States to implement policies that differ from the new law so long as they:
· Provide coverage that is at least as comprehensive as the coverage offered through Exchanges – a new competitive, private health insurance marketplace.
· Make coverage at least as affordable as it would have been through the Exchanges.
· Provide coverage to at least as many residents as the Affordable Care Act would have provided.
· Do not increase the Federal deficit.