Obama embraces earlier state flexibility on health care reform

President Barack Obama tried to seize the political middle in the continuing fight over health care reform Monday, telling a group of governors that he's willing to provide states earlier flexibility in their implementation of the overhaul signed into law last year.

Specifically, the president embraced a bipartisan proposal that would allow states to apply for "innovation waivers" starting in 2014, three years earlier than originally scheduled in the health care reform bill pushed through by Democrats.

Under the terms of such waivers, states would be exempt from a number of requirements in the law if they come up with their own way to adequately expand coverage without increasing the deficit.

For example, a state could seek an exemption waiver beginning in 2014 if it comes up with an alternative for the provision requiring everyone to obtain health coverage unless they can't afford it, senior administration officials told reporters in a conference call later Monday.

The so-called "individual mandate" is the focus of multiple lawsuits by states that contend it is unconstitutional. While the proposal Obama backed Monday is unlikely to affect those lawsuits, it offers states the chance to devise an alternative to the most opposed provision so far.

Read the complete CNN.com story, "Obama embraces earlier state flexibility on health care reform."

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