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Democrat John Hickenlooper and Republican John Kasich join with concerns over health-care overhaul

Author: Peter Marcus - June 27, 2017 - Updated: June 27, 2017

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, were among a bipartisan group of governors who wrote a letter to Senate leaders on Friday, June 16, 2017, urging Congress to take a bipartisan approach to keeping health care coverage accessible and affordable. (Kasich: AP file photo; Hickenlooper photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, were among a bipartisan group of governors who wrote a letter to Senate leaders on Friday, June 16, 2017, urging Congress to take a bipartisan approach to keeping health care coverage accessible and affordable. (Kasich: AP file photo; Hickenlooper photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, is expected to join Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to express concerns with health-care overhaul efforts in Congress.

The two recently penned an opinion piece for the Washington Post in which they acknowledged that reforms are needed since passage of the Affordable Care Act, but they caution against a partisan solution.

“As governors from opposite sides of the political aisle, we feel that true and lasting reforms are best approached by finding common ground in a bipartisan fashion,” Hickenlooper and Kasich wrote.

The two governors are expected to meet Tuesday morning at the National Press Club in Washington to discuss the Senate’s version of health care reform, which was released last week.

“Our first step has been to develop a set of guiding principles that will positively impact the coverage and care of millions of Americans, including many dealing with mental illnesses, chronic health problems and drug addiction.”

The principles include:

  • Improve affordability through insurance reforms while also tackling rising health-care costs;
  • Restore stability to insurance markets by creating choices from a “healthy, stable and competitive market of insurers”;
  • Provide states flexibility and encourage innovation by allowing states to be “laboratories of democracy”; and
  • Improve the regulatory environment by empowering states to promote competition and reducing burdensome federal regulations to help small businesses and individuals.

The House-backed American Health Care Act would replace the Affordable Care Act with a plan that would roll back Medicaid expansion starting in 2019. Federal reimbursements to states would be cut. Instead, the federal government would give states a capped amount of money for each Medicaid enrollee, or let states choose to receive a block grant.

The House proposal would leave Colorado with a $14 billion budget shortfall over a decate, while leaving nearly 600,000 people without coverage from the program, a Colorado Health Institute analysis found.

Senate Republicans last week unveiled their own plan, which also includes deep cuts to Medicaid. It would phase out extra money for Medicaid’s expansion, while placing more stringent spending caps on the program, leaving states with far less money to cover Medicaid patients.

It could leave 630,000 people in Colorado without coverage from Medicaid by 2030. The Senate proposal could leave Colorado in a $15 billion budget hole over a decate, according to an initial analysis by the Colorado Health Institute.

“As passed by the House, the American Health Care Act threatens to create greater uncertainty,” Hickenlooper and Kasich wrote. “Historically, one-party solutions are not sustainable. The bipartisan principles we propose provide a more stable starting point to bring Republicans and Democrats together on lasting reforms.”

Peter Marcus

Peter Marcus

Peter Marcus is senior statehouse reporter for Colorado Politics. He covers the legislature and previously covered politics, the governor’s office, the legislature and Congress for The Durango Herald. He joined The Herald in 2014 from The Colorado Statesman, a Denver-based political weekly. The Washington Post twice named Marcus one of the nation’s top state-based political and legislative reporters.


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