Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper have teamed to recommend that Congress keep the Obamacare mandate requiring Americans to have health insurance, but allow states the flexibility to find something better in place of the health care law.
The two governors’ plan calls for a two-year, $15 billion “stability fund” to help reduce insurance premiums under Obamacare and cut losses for insurance companies. It also asks Congress to create tax incentives for health insurers to spur competition in underserved regions, some of which have only one or no choices.
Hickenlooper is a Democrat and Kasich is a Republican who sought his party’s nomination for president in 2016. The governors touted their plan Friday in Washington, saying a Congress polarized on repealing Obamacare should adopt it.
“Republicans don’t want to say anything to connect them to Obamacare, and Democrats don’t want to be connected to anything that erodes any part of Obamacare,” Kasich said. “So, what I think is happening is the public is getting fed up.”
Hickenlooper and Kasich spoke at a forum co-sponsored by the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the liberal Center for American Progress.
>>> Related: Governors Urge Greater Flexibility for States in Health Care Policy
Although Obamacare, formally called the Affordable Care Act, allows some waivers to states, they can be difficult to obtain and take as long as 18 months, Hickenlooper said.
“Most of what we were pushing on the waivers is to simplify the process of getting them,” the Colorado governor said, adding:
If you don’t like the [individual] mandate, there are a bunch of ways where you might be able to get revenues that can make the mandate less important. Or, maybe you modify the mandate. Those things don’t have to be done through waivers. I mean, waivers are a huge pain in the neck.
Referring to flexibility, Kasich said “we don’t want the Wild West” with “guardrails.”
But Obamacare plans are too restrictive, he said, arguing the need for “commonsense interpretations of what comprehensive [insurance] means.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders last week said she “can’t imagine” the Trump White House would support a bailout for Obamacare.
Kasich, however, talked about the need for more money.
“I want to have a marketplace where people can buy insurance, and if they can’t afford it, let’s help them pay for it,” Kasich said.
“The bottom line,” the Ohio governor added, “is these insurance companies have to make a profit like anyone else, and if they can’t, then they leave these counties.”