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Governors Call for Bipartisan Fix to Health Care

State leaders want to be at decision table with Congress

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is one of 11 governors calling for a bipartisan solution to health care reform. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is one of 11 governors calling for a bipartisan solution to health care reform. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Following the collapse of the Senate’s health care overhaul bill, a group of governors are suggesting a new way forward: bipartisanship. And the group wants a spot at the decision table.

Eleven governors from across the nation issued a statement Tuesday morning calling on the Senate to stop the effort to repeal the 2010 health care law without a replacement.

“This could leave millions of Americans without coverage,” the statement said. “The best next step is for both parties to come together and do what we can all agree on: fix our unstable insurance markets.”

By Tuesday afternoon the repeal-only plan was unfeasible after three Republican senators said they would oppose it. The governors said they want to be included in further discussions on reforming the nation’s health care system.

“Going forward, it is critically important that governors are brought to the table to provide input, and we stand ready to work with lawmakers in an open, bipartisan way to provide better insurance for all Americans,” the statement said.

Five Republicans, five Democrats, and one independent joined the statement in a concerted effort to shift the health care debate toward finding common ground across the political spectrum.

The White House has considered governors to be crucial in overhauling health care, with Vice President Mike Pence making a sales pitch for the Republican plan Friday at the National Governor’s Conference. Pence said the Republican bill would give governors “freedom to redesign your health insurance markets.”

“We can put you back in the driver’s seat to put you back in control,” the Vice President said.

Among the list of 11 governors on the statement were some of the most popular state executives in the nation, according to a new Morning Consult poll. Republican Govs. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland, who both signed the statement, are ranked first and second respectively on the list of most popular governors.

Baker has a 71 percent approval rating while Hogan follows closely with 67 percent, according to the Morning Consult poll released Tuesday morning.

Republican Govs. Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Phil Scott of Vermont also made the top 10 list.

Several of these popular Republican governors who hail from blue states repeatedly pushed back against the Senate’s health care bill after it was released.

Baker remained opposed to the plan after a new version was put out last week.

“This proposal would leave more people uninsured, eliminate certain essential health benefits, further destabilize insurance markets, reduce federal funding and negatively impact important family planning services,” Baker said in a statement Friday.

Among the most vocal critics of the Republican’s health care efforts has been Gov. John Kasich. The Ohio Republican joined the statement today, saying he was “proud of the 11 Republicans and Democrat governors.”

Kasich also wrote a Tuesday op-ed for The New York Times, laying out a new plan for health care reform.

“The best next step is for members of both parties to ignore the fear of criticism that can come from reaching across the aisle and put pencil to pad on these and other ideas that repair health care in real, sustainable ways,” Kasich said. “America needs it, and I know that a bipartisan group of governors, including myself, stands ready to help in any way we can to provide an affordable, sustainable and responsible system of health care for the American people.”

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