The proposal calls for a set of relatively modest initiatives on strengthening marketplaces that, in a normal political environment, would be the basis for legislation that large numbers of Democrats and Republicans would support. It arrives just as a serious discussion of such efforts is set to begin in Washington, starting next week when a key Senate committee holds hearings on efforts to stabilize operations of the 2010 health care law.
But enacting even a narrow health care bill is sure to be difficult, with many Republicans in Congress still holding out for a full repeal of “Obamacare,” while others are unwilling to contemplate action that might help the program function better. President Donald Trump has been openly talking about sabotaging the Affordable Care Act for months.
The agenda that the governors released on Thursday, in the form of a letter to congressional leaders, includes plans designed to bolster insurance marketplaces both in the short- and long-term.
Among the short-term ideas is a call for the federal government to create a temporary “stability fund,” which states could use to help insurers struggling with bills from people with expensive-to-treat medical conditions. Such a fund could pay for “reinsurance” programs that some states, including Alaska and Minnesota, are already creating to help struggling insurers ― and, in so doing, avoid massive premium increases that would leave wealthier consumers with much higher insurance costs.
Just as these proposals have brought together governors from across the political spectrum, we are confident they can attract support across party lines in both chambers of Congress. Proposal from the bipartisan group of governors
To help consumers in “underserved” parts of the country, which presumably means those markets down to just one insurer, the governors propose allowing enrollment into the same program that insures federal employees around the country. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has already introduced a bill calling for a similar approach. The governors would also like to see the federal government offer a tax break to insurers that agree to start offering plans in those underserved markets.
Going forward, the governors want Congress to give states more leeway to modify…