Obama move could boost state's health care efforts

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — One of the major blockades to Vermont single-payer health care reform fell last week when President Obama endorsed a bill by the Vermont Congressional delegation to alter the waiver date in the federal Affordable Care Act.

The law currently prohibits waivers from federal reform requirements until 2017, but the president has agreed to support an earlier waiver date that will allow Vermont to implement a single-payer plan in 2014.

In order to gain the president’s approval, the state must craft a plan that is at least as comprehensive and affordable as the federal model.

“I think that’s a reasonable proposal,” said Obama. “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 affordable 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.”

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said he was pleased with the news.

“I’m optimistic,” Shumlin said. “This announcement was well received by my Republican and Democratic colleagues.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was also enthusiastic, stating, “At a time when 50 million Americans lack health insurance and when the cost of health care continues to soar, it is my strong hope that Vermont will lead the nation in a new direction through a Medicare-for-all, single-payer approach. I am delighted that President Obama announced today that he will, in fact, support allowing states to innovate with health coverage models sooner rather than later.”

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