Democratic Senator seeks exemption for his state from ObamaCare’s individual mandate
While some states are taking to the courts to fight back against the individual mandate in ObamaCare, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is seeking an exemption for his state:
Last week Mr. Wyden sent a letter to Oregon health authority director Bruce Goldberg, encouraging the state to seek a waiver from certain ObamaCare rules so it can “come up with innovative solutions that the Federal government has never had the flexibility or will to implement.”
One little-known provision of the bill allows states to opt out of the “requirement that individuals purchase health insurance,” Mr. Wyden wrote, and “Because you and I believe that the heart of real health reform is affordability and not mandates, I wanted to bring this feature of Section 1332 to the attention of you and the legislature.”
Now, that’s news. One of the Democratic Party’s leading experts on health care wants his state to dump the individual mandate that is among ObamaCare’s core features. The U-turn is especially notable because Mr. Wyden once championed an individual mandate in the bill he sponsored with Utah Republican Bob Bennett.
Over at the Huffington Post, Wyden explains his perspective:
[F]for states to really be empowered to be innovative the federal government has to be willing to give states a little leeway to implement their own approaches. A state, for example, will struggle to offer a public option on its exchange if it has to follow the exact standards of the federal law that doesn’t provide for one. And, of course, no state-based approach — no matter how innovative — can work if everyone who participates in the state program gets fined by the federal government for failing to comply with the federal mandate.
I’m no fan of Sen. Wyden’s health care proposals, which are worse than ObamaCare in some ways and even more expensive. It’s one of the reasons Bob Bennett, who co-sponsored the legislation with Wyden, lost his primary challenge to Mike Lee.
But it is substantial for a Democratic Senator, especially one that is considered to be a health care policy wonk, to come out against the center policy piece in ObamaCare.