- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rep. Charlie Rangel, the influential New York Democrat who frequently defends Obamacare from the dais, said he is open to letting Americans shop for insurance across state lines — a key talking point for GOP lawmakers who want to repeal and replace the president’s health care law with their own reforms.

“There may be any number of things that we can do together to improve this bill,” Mr. Rangel told TellDC, a partner of The Washington Times.

Citing America’s past policy overhauls, such as Social Security legislation and Medicare’s prescription-drug benefit, he said there will always be hiccups in major reforms that need to be addressed.

Mr. Rangel’s support for letting people shop for insurance anywhere in the nation is significant, since members of one party in the House rarely show support for the other side’s health reform ideas amid the bitter debate over Obamacare’s fate.

In recent months, Republicans have put momentum behind efforts to put forward a comprehensive alternative to Obamacare ahead of the midterm elections. 

Although the GOP-led House has not coalesced around a concrete plan, lawmakers are focusing on the expansion of so-called “health savings accounts” and providing states added flexibility to administer their Medicaid programs.

Supporters say allowing insurers to sell across state lines would increase competition, lower prices and give consumers more options than the current state-based system. Critics warn deregulation could lead to a “race to the bottom” where insurers would flock to the states with the weakest oversight.

In his comments to TellDC, Mr. Rangel said he had been intrigued by a House bill that would have allowed people to bypass their state borders to gain coverage.

“I certainly was interested in that bill,” he said. “It seemed like it made it more of a national bill, you weren’t stuck with your state.”


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