Hickenlooper-Kasich, Alongside Other Govs, Push National Health Care Compromise

<p>Carolyn Kaster/AP</p>
<p>Ohio Gov. John Kasich, right, joined by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, speaks about Republican legislation overhauling the Obama health care law during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., June 27, 2017.</p>
Photo: Kasich Hickenlooper Health Care News Conference - AP
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, right, joined by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, speaks about Republican legislation overhauling the Obama health care law during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., June 27, 2017.

A bipartisan group of governors working to strike compromise on hot-button policy issues will take on the health care question at an event Friday.

Republican Gov. John Kasich, of Ohio, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, of Colorado, and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, are among governors scheduled to headline a briefing at the National Press Club in Washington to discuss their latest ideas for improving the nation's health care system.

Their blueprint, a copy of which was provided to The Associated Press, lays out a host of ideas for improving affordability, restoring stability, promoting flexibility so that states can innovate and eliminating duplicative and burdensome insurance regulations.

The governors urge the federal government to restore insurer subsidies that were stopped by Republican President Donald Trump, triggering sharp increases in premiums this year.

They also seek more outreach to help sign people up for coverage. In 2017, the Trump administration slashed the ad budget for the Affordable Care Act's 2018 sign-up season.

The governors also recommend action to shield insurers from the full cost of treatment for patients with very expensive conditions. That's called "re-insurance" in industry jargon. Alaska has already implemented such a program, with the blessing of the federal government, and it helped control premiums in that state.

The idea has bipartisan support in Congress, but the outlook is uncertain.

Their proposal doesn't merely call for federal government action, it also provides examples of effective state efforts that can be used as examples at both the federal and state levels, said Greg Moody, who leads Kasich's Office of Health Transformation. The blueprint incorporates agreeable solutions that states have found, for example, to streamlining regulations and cutting Medicaid costs, he said.

This isn't the first bipartisan outing for the governors of Colorado and Ohio. Both have collaborated on several topics, many of which are health care related. Earlier efforts include lobbying congress on behalf of CHIP funding and even an earlier plan on health care. The earlier blueprint was focused on stabilizing the insurance market and lowering premiums and came at the height of GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Kasich, Hickenlooper and Walker are joined in the new effort by Nevada's Brian Sandoval, a Republican, and Pennsylvania's Tom Wolf, a Democrat.

A guiding principle of the group's work, according to the document, is to "reject false choices" — items that are leading to some of the biggest disagreements around the nation over health care.

For instance, it's not necessary to choose between ensuring high quality care and reducing costs, or between being fiscally responsible and being generous and humane, the group argues. They say a quality health care system can foster individual accountability and at the same time support people in need.

Read The Blueprint