Governors from both parties slam House healthcare bill, call for bipartisan Senate approach

Governors from both parties slam House healthcare bill, call for bipartisan Senate approach
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A bipartisan group of governors is calling on the Senate to adopt a bipartisan approach on healthcare while denouncing the ObamaCare repeal bill that passed the House. 

Senate Republicans are currently moving forward with crafting a repeal bill that they expect will only get GOP votes, arguing that Democrats are not interested in compromise. But the governors are instead calling for an approach where both parties work together. 

“While we certainly agree that reforms need to be made to our nation’s health care system, as Governors from both sides of the political aisle, we feel that true and lasting reforms are best approached by finding common ground in a bipartisan fashion,” the governors wrote in a letter to Senate leaders of both parties. 

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed the letter. 

Kasich and Sandoval are particularly notable for their warning against the current Senate GOP approach, given that senators from their states, Rob PortmanRob PortmanGOP governors could help bring down Senate health bill Overnight Healthcare: Senate delays ObamaCare vote past recess | Trump says GOP 'very close' to deal | Three more senators come out against bill Three more GOP senators announce opposition to healthcare bill MORE (R-Ohio) and Dean HellerDean HellerGOP governors could help bring down Senate health bill Trump faces enormous test with healthcare bill Behind closed doors, tensions in the GOP MORE (R-Nev.), are key votes on the bill. 

Kasich’s office said the governor has been in regular touch with Portman on the healthcare bill. 

The governors sharply criticized the House-passed ObamaCare repeal bill. 

“Improvements should be based on a set of guiding principles, included below, which include controlling costs and stabilizing the market, that will positively impact the coverage and care of millions of Americans, including many who are dealing with mental illness, chronic health problems, and drug addiction,” the governors write. 

“Unfortunately, H.R. 1628, as passed by the House, does not meet these challenges,” they add. “It calls into question coverage for the vulnerable and fails to provide the necessary resources to ensure that no one is left out, while shifting significant costs to the states.”

The governors are particularly concerned about the bill's Medicaid provisions. All of governors who signed the letter are from states that expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare, but the Republican bill in both chambers is set to end the federal funding for that expansion. 

Sandoval, in particular, has said publicly he wants to keep the expansion as it is. That represents a break with Heller, the most vulnerable Senate Republican on the ballot in 2018, who said he supports a seven-year phaseout of the expansion funding. 

Portman also supports the seven-year phaseout. Kasich has said he could agree to a phaseout of the funding if there is enough “flexibility.”

“We stand ready to work with you and your colleagues to develop a proposal that is fiscally sound and provides quality, affordable coverage for our most vulnerable citizens,” the letter states.