States Battle with Federal Government on Health Care


"There's not an easy villain," said William Roper, dean of the school of public health at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "We as Americans want people to be covered by health insurance and get health services that they need, but we have a much greater appetite for public services than we have an appetite for the taxes that pay for them and that has produced over years -- and more recently over the last few years -- a gigantic budget deficit."

Parts of the new health care law are popular with Americans, such as tax credits for small businesses and insurance companies being barred from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. But overall, Americans' view on health care reform is mixed.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted after the mid-term election found that more than half -- 56 percent -- of those who voted would like to see the law repealed entirely or in parts, but among Americans generally, only a quarter wanted to repeal parts of it.

Last week, Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon introduced a bill that would allow states to get waivers by 2014 exempting them from some of the new requirements, such as health exchanges and insurance mandates.

"States shouldn't be forced by the federal government to adopt a one-size-fits all health care plan. Each state's health care needs are different," Brown said in a statement.

Supporters of Brown's and Wyden's provision say it will give some leeway to states as they try to figure out how to tackle their budget deficits.

"The greater challenge for states right now is how can we give people everything and stay solvent and do what the federal government wants," said Sreedhar Potarazu, an ophthalmologist and chief executive of Vital Spring Technologies. "States are on the verge of going over the cliff and health care is the last straw."

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