February 28th, 2011
01:31 PM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Responding to fierce criticism of his new health care law, President Obama is now supporting an amendment that would allow states to opt out of key requirements sooner if they can match or come up with a better plan.
“If your state can create a plan that covers as many people as affordably and comprehensively as the Affordable Care Act does without increasing the deficit,” the president said, “you can implement that plan and we’ll work with you to do it.”
“I will go to bat for whatever works, no matter who or where it comes from.”
Under the Affordable Care Act states have the flexibility of withdrawing from mandates in 2017.
But a bipartisan amendment introduced by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Scott Brown (R-MA) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) pushes up that timeline allowing states to opt out starting in 2014.
The president announced his support for that legislation in a White House speech to the National Governors Association, where he also took the rare step of agreeing with his once Republican campaign rival, the former governor of Massachusetts.
“I agree with Mitt Romney who recently said he's proud of what he accomplished on health care in Massachusetts and supports giving states the power to determine their own health care solutions,” the president said.
“He's right,’’ Mr. Obama added. “Alabama's not going to have exactly the same needs as Massachusetts or California or North Dakota. We believe in that flexibility.”
The health care law has been under fire from Republicans who have called for its repeal.
It is also being challenged as unconstitutional in federal courts around the country. But the White House has always been quick to point out that some courts, like in Michigan and Virginia, have ruled in their favor.
However the president’s signature initiative remains highly unpopular and he acknowledged that fact in his remarks to the governors.
“I’m aware that I’ve not convinced everybody here to be a member of the affordable care act fan club,” he joked.