President Barack Obama has apparently had a change of heart, Monday telling members of the National Governors Association, among whom was Gov. Bobby Jindal, that they can opt of the landmark health care reform law as soon as it goes into effect if they have a better plan.

Under the current law, states must wait until 2017 to obtain waivers, but Obama said he supported accelerating the date to 2014, as proposed by Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Scott Brown, R-Mass.

The president, who has staunchly supported the law through court attacks and legislative efforts to repeal it, told the nation’s governors that he was willing to amend the measure to give states the ability to opt out of its most controversial requirements from the outset, including the requirement that most people buy insurance. But those states must have a better way to expand coverage without driving up health care costs, he said, and they will need to prove it. For example, states will have to demonstrate that insurance benefits would be as affordable and as comprehensive and that the same number of residents in their states would gain coverage.

On March 23 of last year, the day Obama signed the health care overhaul into law, 14 states, including Louisiana, filed legal challenges to its constitutionality.

Thirteen states claim the legislation places a fiscal burden on their cash-strapped budgets with an expansion of state-run Medicaid. Virginia filed its own suit, claiming that the “individual mandate” requiring people to buy health insurance exceeds Congress’ powers.

Joining Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, then the only Democratic governor in the bunch (he has since switched), were Florida, Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.

Obama also has backed removing a specific tax provision that both parties regard as onerous on business, The New York Times reported.

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