Single Payer, Public Option May Still Be Options For The States

Jamie Court, author of "The Progressive's Guide to Raising Hell," sees a viable silver lining in Obama's willingness to let states figure out their own health reform programs. Not incidentally, it'll be interesting to watch Republicans twist themselves in knots to meet these goals without considering the cheapest options!

At the National Governors Association, President Obama just threw his weight behind a bipartisan effort in the U.S. Senate to allow states to innovate with health reform, including adopting a public insurance system or single payer health care system by 2013 instead of 2017.

The governors embraced the state innovations waiver proposal, since conservative states want to weed back the federal health reform, and states like California might like to push ahead with public insurance options or single payer health care systems.

The idea is to let states meet federal targets anyway they want to, rather than how the federal government prescribes, by 2013 rather than the current 2017 deadline.

This is one of Obama's only moves left, and a smart one. It gives progressive reformers in California and elsewhere the ability to move forward on ambitious reform plans that can pass at the ballot box in 24 states but would never get the time of day in Washington.

Facing strong legal challenges to the individual mandate, Obama did the right thing by offering flexibility to states to meet targets for access and benefits in the Affordable Care Act. He took a page from longtime labor leader Joe Hill: "Don't Mourn, Organize." He's giving those of us who favor a public insurance option to the private insurance market an opportunity to move our states forward. We better take Joe Hill's advice too and start organizing.


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