It Depends on What the Definition of 'Flexibility' Is ObamaCare remains so unpopular with the American people that even Barack Obama and other Democrats are signaling their willingness to change things about the law. From repeal of certain provisions to the granting of nearly 1,000 waivers, Democrats are beginning to realize the albatross around their own necks and are appearing to respond with concessions. The trouble is, they're still Democrats, and they still remind us of that great Richard Jordan quote from "The Hunt for Red October": "I'm a politician, which means I'm a cheat and a liar, and when I'm not kissing babies I'm stealing their lollipops. But it also means I keep my options open."

To our knowledge, Obama hasn't overtly stolen any lollipops (they probably wouldn't pass the First Lady's health food test), but he has kept his options open. Addressing the National Governors Association Winter Meeting earlier this week, the president announced that he was willing to support a bill in Congress that gives states the option to "opt out" of ObamaCare -- if they offer a viable alternative that achieves the same thing.

In supporting the bill by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Scott Brown (R?-MA), Obama claimed, "It will give you flexibility more quickly while still guaranteeing the American people reform." However, Stuart Butler, director of the Heritage Foundation Center for Policy Innovation, explains why that sounds too good to be true: "[Wyden-Brown] still locks the states into guaranteeing a generous and costly level of benefits. True, a state could propose alternative benefit requirements if they had the same actuarial value as those in the [health care bill]. But the requirements go well beyond basic coverage, and the HHS secretary is the one who defines 'at least as comprehensive' benefits."

Butler continued, "Another major problem with the bill is that since ultimate waiver authority rests with the HHS secretary, the waivers granted would probably reflect the administration's preferences. Senator Wyden claims that his legislation would allow conservative states to opt out of much of the [bill] and implement consumer-driven coverage. But he admits that the secretary, not the state, has the final word over what is permitted." That doesn't sound like flexibility to us.

While half the states are suing to overturn the law completely, the pending bill would give Democrat-controlled states the option to implement single-payer government control even faster. According to an unnamed White House insider1, "They are trying to split the baby here: on one hand tell supporters this is good for their pet issues, versus a message for the general public that the POTUS is responding to what he is hearing and that he is being sensible."

Read that "Red October" quote again. Obama wants to appear as if he's hearing and responding to the concerns of the American people. In reality, he's merely keeping his options open for expanding government health care -- and maybe even stealing a few lollipops on the side.

Read More: