Lanhee Chen: Congress Should Give Opportunity To The Laboratories Of Democracy

A consensus is emerging on Capitol Hill about the need to fund Obamacare’s cost-sharing subsidies, which help working-class Americans buy health insurance. The question is what fundamental reforms conservatives should get in return.

In my view, they should focus on giving states greater flexibility to design their own health reforms. There’s actually a part of Obamacare that allows states to receive federal money in a lump sum and to waive or revise many of Obamacare’s most noteworthy provisions, including its mandates, the structure and administration of subsidies provided by it and covered benefits . Conservatives should focus on making it easier for states to qualify for these waivers, so we can move away from the one-size-fits-all system that Obamacare created.

We are on the cusp of a rare health care bipartisan agreement. Still, conservatives will (and should) insist on fundamental changes to Obamacare as part of the deal. In so doing, they should aim for an approach that will truly give more states the opportunity to become what Justice Louis Brandeis once called “the laboratories of democracy.”