The Obama administration's first-time support for the Wyden measure was revealed in a Monday update on the healthcare law and in President Barack Obama's meeting with the nation's governors on the last day of the National Governors Association three-day winter meeting in Washington.
“The president's endorsement gives a real booster shot to our effort to give states flexibility in implementing health reform,” Wyden said in a written statement issued in reply to questions. “By allowing states to start applying for waivers right away, they will be able to look for innovative ways to save money and better care for their citizens from day one.”
The legislation holds little interest for most Republicans because the flexibility it would allow for other healthcare approaches does not extend to approaches for expanding coverage favored by conservatives, including the use of catastrophic coverage and tax-advantaged health savings accounts. However, Gov. Chris Gregoire (D-Wash.) said that “there is considerable amount of interest” among governors for it. Gregoire chairs the national organization.
Gregoire also said the president challenged the nation's governors to form a bipartisan group that will work with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on ways to lower costs and improve quality for Medicaid beneficiaries in the states. Gregoire said the governors accept the challenge. When asked about a timeline for these proposals, she responded: “As soon as possible.”