Could States Implement Single Payer Health Care?

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Ben Cohen
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by Ben Cohen

Ezra Klein picks up on an interesting amendment to the healthcare bill that member of the Finance committee, Ron Wyden
introduced (which Max Baucus apparently accepted before the hearings even
began). Writes Klein:

The Wyden folks quietly slipped in an amendment
giving states enormous flexibility to experiment upward. Essentially,
states can ask the federal government for a waiver that allows them to
keep the federal funds they're receiving and do pretty much anything
they want with them, so long as the coverage they provide is "at least
as comprehensive as required under the Chairman’s Mark" and will "lower
health care spending growth, improve the delivery system performance,
provide affordable choices for all its citizens, expand protections
against excessive out-of-pocket spending, provides coverage to the same
number of uninsured and not increase the Federal deficit."

This could potentially pave the way for robust public options, or even single payer systems in individual states. While it could of course go the other way, Klein points out that, "since the amendment doesn't allow anything to drift beneath the levels
envisioned in the bill itself, it's hard to imagine a conservative
state using it to be any less generous than the state would otherwise
be."

The language of the provision (see the hyperlink above) is confusing, so it's most definitely up for interpretation. However, it is a potential caveat that could reap enormous reward should a brave governor decide to take matters into their own hands.