Sunday, November 19, 2017
Editorials

Another voice: Two governors from two parties tackle health coverage

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Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper have shown that American politics does not need to resemble a Hatfields and McCoys picnic. It is possible for well-meaning politicians to collaborate with those on the other side of the aisle. Kasich and Hickenlooper have done that in crafting a sensible plan to stabilize individual health insurance markets.

Markets have been foundering under Republican threats to withhold federal subsidies to insurers. The uncertainty has driven insurers from the Obamacare marketplace, leaving many counties with only one insurer, and others with the possibility of having none by next year.

Kasich's and Hickenlooper's plan is not a long-term fix for health care but rather an effort to prop up collapsing markets. The two men are proposing that the individual mandate be kept in place and that young people keep their insurance. They propose that subsidies be continued to regain the confidence of rattled insurers and stave off predicted premium spikes of 20 to 25 percent.

But the governors are also proposing tax exemptions for insurers willing to go into underserved counties, and they would allow residents of those counties to buy into the health care plan of federal workers, the Federal Employee Benefit Program.

They are not going so far as to propose a single-payer health care system, which is wise. They are working in the realm of the practical for now.

As they wrote in a Washington Post op-ed over the summer, "All Americans will come out on the losing end if we simply replace one divisive plan with another, having failed to find a bipartisan solution to bring lasting reform that can be sustained across administrations. It will be worse yet if senators — like House members before them — decide these questions behind closed doors, avoiding the open discussion and transparency needed to make the American people full participants in this vital debate."

Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has signed on to the proposal. Others include Republican Brian Sandoval of Nevada, independent Bill Walker of Alaska and Democrats Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, John Bel Edwards of Louisiana and Steve Bullock of Montana.

Kasich has been giving signals that he is interested in running in the 2020 presidential campaign. But he has been steadfast in his insistence that the federal government must provide quality health care to the citizenry.

Kasich led the charge to maintain Medicaid expansion during the recent Obamacare repeal debate. Now he is working to prevent the collapse of the health insurance marketplace. For this, he should be commended.

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