States Eye New Ways to Change Obamacare

Now that Congress and the courts have failed to overhaul Obamacare, states are eyeing the only current remaining opportunity to modify the healthcare law — this time from the inside out.

Policy and lawmakers are shifting their attention to a section of the Affordable Care Act allowing for state innovation waivers, known as “1332 waivers.” Starting in 2017, the waivers can give states wider latitude in how they run their insurance marketplaces and regulate health plans, as long as they meet the law’s major goals of providing affordable coverage to lots of people.

If their waiver requests are approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, states could modify the rules governing the benefits that plans have to cover or how subsidies are provided to low-income individuals. They also could reduce or eliminate the law’s fines on individuals and employers for lacking coverage or failing to provide it.