Kasich, Hickenlooper plan to fix Obamacare, health care



John
Kasich.

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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
plans.

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
    two years.
  • 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
    counties.
  • 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
needs.

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.

A
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

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