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  • Compromise Offered on Health Reform

     In an effort to curb rising dissatifaction and revolt by individual states, President Obama offered a compromise on Monday to states struggling to implement his health care law, offering support for a proposal that would give them some flexibility in carrying out its key parts.The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) originally was designed  to lower costs and extend coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.  The law has divided Democrats and Republicans and handed states – more than half of which are suing over its constitutionality – a handful of bureaucratic challenges. The president acknowledged those issues during a meeting with state governors at the White House on Monday.  President Obama emphasized a part of the law that would allow states to tailor their own solutions to health care reform in 2017 if they fulfilled the same goals created by PPACA. “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. “And we’ll work with you to do it,” he said. 

    More than half of the 50 states are suing to stop the plan in federal court, saying it usurps individuals’ and states’ rights, making it mandatory to purchase insurance coverage or pay penalties.

    States must carry out many of the reforms, including establishing exchanges where individuals can buy health insurance. PPACA made more people eligible for Medicaid, the health care program for the poor that states operate with partial reimbursements from the federal government. When states balked at the huge price tag of larger Medicaid rolls, Congress agreed to pay 100% of the costs for new enrollees. Manystates are still concerned that they cannot afford to implement the plan after the financial crisis and recession induced an historic collapse in many states’ revenues. Additionally, Medicaid costs are rising as large numbers of laid-off workers turn to it for assistance (Medicaid on average takes up a third of states’ budgets).  Obama asked the governors to create a bipartisan commission to study ways to bring down costs. 

     Last week, the Health and Human Services Department announced a variety of grant programs to help fund state programs to review health insurance rates, pay for the administration of insurance regulation, and provide home healthcare to Medicaid enrollees.

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