Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper said Thursday a new health care proposal he helped draft with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, should transcend politics, similar to the bipartisan efforts currently underway to help Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas.
“In a funny way, Hurricane Harvey, everyone down there is doing what they can. It’s bipartisan. It’s ‘trans-partisan.’ And that’s what the governor and I want to do with health care,” Hickenlooper told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on “The Lead.”
Hickenlooper and Kasich, along with a bipartisan group of six other governors, outlined their health care plan in a letter to Senate and House leaders Wednesday, one month after GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare failed in the Senate.
“We ask you to take immediate steps to make coverage more stable and affordable. 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 said.
The governors highlighted volatility in the heath insurance marketplace as their “most immediate” concern, saying that it threatens coverage for 22 million Americans.
Their letter noted three main recommendations: Immediate federal action to stabilize markets, responsible reforms to preserve recent coverage gains and control costs and an active federal/state partnership that shares “a commitment to improve overall health system performance.”
The plan addresses a mix of fixes to Obamacare meant to cater to both the left and the right. Obamacare supporters – as well as insurers, governors and others – have long asked for funding of the cost-sharing subsidies and enforcement of the individual mandate. Also to their liking: promoting open enrollment and bolstering risk sharing programs.
But some of the provisions are priorities for Obamacare opponents. These include increasing state control, offering waivers and giving states more flexibility over which health benefits insurers must cover.
Kasich, appearing with Hickenlooper, said on “The Lead” that the new plan would “change the whole way in which we think about health care” by giving states greater flexibility.
“This should satisfy just about everybody. If you are a Democrat and you want to double down on Obamacare, you can. And if you are Republican and you want to design your own coverage within a set of guidelines, you can.”
The plan addresses a mix of fixes to Obamacare that insurers, governors and others have long asked for on both the left and right, such as addressing cost-sharing subsidies, the individual mandate, promoting enrollment, stabilizing risk pools, increasing state control, offering waivers, and offering essential health benefits such as doctors’ services, inpatient and outpatient hospital care and prescription drug coverage.
Once the marketplace is stabilized, the governors wrote, then Congress could move on to focus on cost-cutting.
“As we move beyond the immediate crisis, the real challenge over time will be to confront the underlying cost drivers of health care spending, and reset incentives to reward better care for individuals, better health for populations, and lower cost,” the letter said.
The duo has been working on a plan to stabilize insurance markets since the Trump administration failed to pass an Obamacare repeal bill.
“You got to do this in a bipartisan way, and the thing you have to do is stabilize those insurance markets,” Kasich told CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper in August of the plan. “And if you want to take away payments, you’re going to create chaos. We can’t have that.”
Kasich and Hickenlooper have long had a close working relationship, even recently entertaining the idea of forming a unity presidential ticket to run for the White House in 2020, a source involved the discussions told CNN. Under this scenario, Kasich, a Republican, and Hickenlooper, a Democrat, would run as independents with Kasich at the top of the ticket, said the source, who cautioned it had only been casually talked about.
CNN’s Mark Preston and Tami Luhby contributed to this report