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Obama moves up date to let states seek health-care waivers

From NBC's Chuck Todd and Domenico Montanaro
President Obama is endorsing a plan to let states ask for waivers on mandates in the health-care law earlier, starting 2014, instead of 2017. The news was first reported by the New York Times. Some bullet points:

-- This doesn't mean states can opt-out of hitting specific coverage targets, but if they have other ideas that would still cover as many people, they can circumvent some of the health-care law's requirements.

-- He will endorse the concept of the Ron Wyden-Scott Brown legislation, which moves up the start date when states can seek waivers from the health-care law from 2017 to 2014, they are called "innovation waivers" - if they can come up with ways to incentivize people to buy insurance rather than require it.

As the law currently stands, an indvidual state can basically seek a waiver from any part of the law starting in 2017, if they can prove they will meet the coverage and affordability options stated in the president's health-care law.

This allows states to:

-- introduce new options for coverage
-- have some flexibility in choosing whether to make some Medicaid recipients purchase insurance through exchanges
-- seek a waiver from the individual mandate

This new plan would move that start date up to 2014.

The Times frames this as Obama "seeking to appease disgruntled governors." More from the Times:

Senior administration officials said Mr. Obama would reveal to the National Governors Association in a speech on Monday morning that he backs legislation that would enable states to request federal permission to withdraw from the law's mandates in 2014 rather than in 2017. The earlier date is when many of the act's central provisions take effect, including requirements that most individuals obtain health insurance and that employers of a certain size offer coverage to workers or pay a penalty.

The announcement is the first time Mr. Obama has called for changing a central component of his signature health care law, although he has backed removing a specific tax provision that both parties regard as onerous on business. The shift comes as the law is under fierce attack in the courts and from Republicans on Capitol Hill and in statehouses around the country.