In a Shift, Obama Willing to Require Insurance for All

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2009 6:35 PM CDT
President Obama listens to a reporter's question Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
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(Newser) – President Obama has begun wading into the murky details of health care reform. In a letter to Democratic leaders, the president said he could accept a law that requires all Americans to buy insurance—provided it has a "hardship waiver" for those who can't afford it, reports the New York Times. That's a shift from his campaign stance, when he opposed the idea of a so-called individual mandate (as pitched by Hillary, among others).

In his letter to Ted Kennedy and Max Baucus, Obama also said he's willing to require employers to provide coverage, but he wants exemptions for strapped small businesses. The president for the first time backed the idea of giving a federal panel the authority to propose Medicare cost cuts, which Congress could then approve or reject in entirety, notes the Washington Post. The approach is modeled on how military bases are closed.