Kasich, Hickenlooper plan to fix Obamacare, health care
Eight US governors on Thursday unveiled a plan to fix the
Affordable Care Act, the law also known as Obamacare.
A letter from two Republican governors — John Kasich of Ohio
and Brian Sandoval of Nevada — five Democrats, and one
independent urged congressional leaders to do everything in their
power to help the people on the law’s individual insurance
exchanges and to stabilize the program.
“As Congress considers reforms to strengthen our nation’s health
insurance system, we ask you to take immediate steps to make
coverage more stable and affordable,”
the letter said. “The current state of our individual market
is unsustainable and we can all agree this is a problem that
needs to be fixed.”
The letter called on the Trump administration to try to make the
law work by increasing outreach to get people to sign up for
The governors also suggested a few concrete policy steps. Here’s
a quick rundown:
- Fund cost-sharing-reduction payments. CSR
payments help to offset the cost to insurers for offering
poorer Americans plans with low out-of-pocket costs. These
payments have been the subject of a lawsuit under the Obama
administration. Trump has repeatedly threatened to cut them
off. The governors urged the leaders to fund them for at least
- Create a fund to help states address rising
premiums. The governors said they wanted Congress to
create a $15 billion-a-year stability fund that would allow
states to create programs to lower premiums for people in the
exchanges. They also suggested offsetting the move by cutting
spending in other areas.
- Exempt insurers from the federal health-insurance tax
for plans in underserved counties. The governors’ plan
would exempt insurers from the federal tax on plans provided to
people in counties with only one insurer on their exchanges.
Such a move, they say, would help encourage insurers to enter
rural counties that may be in danger of going without coverage
on the exchanges.
- Allow people in underserved counties to buy into
government benefits. The plan would let people in
counties with one insurer on their exchanges buy into the
Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. In essence, that
would create a so-called public option for underserved
- Re-create the federal reinsurance program.
That program helped to stem losses by insurers and spur their
participation in the exchanges. The program was phased out, but
the plan would reinstate it.
The plan would also encourage open enrollment and institute other
programs to allow states more flexibility in addressing their
The proposal comes after Republican attempts to repeal and
replace Obamacare — which were
roundly criticized by many governors in both parties — fell
through at the end of July.
bipartisan solution is scheduled to be discussed by the
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in
September, once Congress returns from its monthlong recess.
Here’s a full list of signatories:
- John Kasich, Ohio Republican
- John Hickenlooper, Colorado Democrat
- Brian Sandoval, Nevada Republican
- Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Democrat
- Bill Walker, Alaska independent
- Terry McAuliffe, Virginia Democrat
- John Bel Edwards, Louisiana Democrat
- Steve Bullock, Montana Democrat