Liberals see open door for public option, single-payer healthcare

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who is sponsoring similar legislation in the House, told The Hill that Obama is acknowledging that a “one-size-fits-all” plan is not necessarily the way to go.

“If a state wanted to pursue a public option or private market approach, they’d be free to do it,” said Welch, whose governor is pushing for a single-payer healthcare system.
Vermont Sens. Patrick Leahy (D) and Bernie Sanders (I) said last month that the waiver bill would give their state the flexibility needed for a single-payer system.

“This state waiver bill will give Vermont and other states the choice to go above and beyond what the federal health care law does by devising their own reforms,” Leahy said in a statement last month.

Other liberal groups were putting a positive spin on the White House announcement Monday.

“The law has always recognized that the best way to expand and improve coverage is for states to implement reform in ways that are smart, efficient and work best for them without falling short of the healthcare law’s important quality and coverage benchmarks,” said Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now.

The pro-reform Families USA group stressed that Obama’s announcement does not alter the healthcare law's goals, but it urged caution in setting waiver benchmarks for comparability.

“It will be critically important that regulations defining allowable State Innovation Waivers require premiums, benefits, cost-sharing for services, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs to be at least as protective for families at each income level as provided in Medicaid and exchanges under the Affordable Care Act,” said Families USA Director Ron Pollack. 

The administration said on Monday it would propose waiver regulations in the spring.