Washington: President Barack Obama has
offered to bring forward the date by which US states can frame
their own health care plans, in an apparent concession to
critics of his historic reform law.
Obama`s mammoth health reform legislation, passed
after a monumental political effort last year, aimed to expand
health coverage to most Americans, cut down on abuses by
private insurance giants and cut ballooning costs.
But Republicans have branded the law, the most
sweeping social legislation for decades, as a government power
grab and are challenging it in the courts, and the bill
continues to divide public opinion ahead of the 2012 election.
At a meeting with governors at the White House, Obama
said he would let states opt out of his law in 2014 instead of
2017 -- if they could come up with plans to fulfill the same
goals as his effort.
"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," Obama told the governors.
"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."
Under Obama`s plan states could make the decision to
opt out of the federal health care reform requirements by
But three senators, Democrats Ron Wyden of Oregon and
Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, as well as Scott Brown of
Massachusetts introduced a plan, which Obama backed, to bring
forward that date to 2014.
The president warned however that his concession would
not allow states and governors that opposed his law for
political reasons, to simply roll it back.
"I am not open to re-fighting the battles of the last
two years, or undoing the progress that we`ve made," Obama
Republican critics of the health care law are mounting
multiple legal challenges, alleging the federal requirement
for Americans to buy health insurance is unconstitutional.
Many observers believe that the fate of Obama`s
signature domestic achievement will eventually be decided by
the US Supreme Court.