Bipartisan group of governors calls on Congress to stabilize ObamaCare markets

Bipartisan group of governors calls on Congress to stabilize ObamaCare markets
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A bipartisan group of 10 governors is calling on Congress to vote on a deal to stabilize ObamaCare’s insurance markets.

“We urge Congress to quickly pass legislation to stabilize our private health insurance markets and make quality health insurance more available and affordable,” the governors wrote Wednesday in a letter to House and Senate leaders from both parties.

“Senators Alexander and Murray have negotiated in good faith and developed a bipartisan agreement that will help achieve these goals," the letter continued, referencing the deal brokered by Senate Health Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGOP braces for impeachment brawl McConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows GOP senator: 'Inappropriate' to discuss opponents, but impeachment a 'mistake' MORE (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Biz groups say Warren labor plan would be disaster Freedom of the press under fire in Colorado MORE (D-Wash.).

The current deal, however, is already nearly dead. President Trump reversed course Wednesday and said he opposed the deal as is. A spokesman for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash: Trump incorrect in claiming Congress didn't subpoena Obama officials Democrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate MORE (R-Wis.) said the Senate should focus on repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

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Last week, Trump decided to cut payments to insurers, compensating them for lowering the out-of-pocket costs of certain ObamaCare enrollees — known as cost-sharing reduction payments. This means some insurers are raising premiums, and some could try to exit the marketplaces.

The governors wrote that they’ve worked to ensure every area in their state has at least one insurer selling plans in its ObamaCare exchange, and that they’ve “explored, designed, and implemented programs to help keep costs from spiraling out of control.”

“Stabilizing insurance markets is one of the primary areas where Congress can take action to ensure that consumers have affordable health care options,” the letter states. “As governors, we deal with the real-life impacts of actions taken in Washington, DC.”

The governors wrote that Congress, “at a minimum,” should fund the payments to insurers through 2019.

Governors who signed the letter are Republicans John Kasich of Ohio, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Phil Scott of Vermont; Democrats John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Steve Bullock of Montana, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, John Bel Edwards of Louisiana; and independent Bill Walker of Alaska.

Alexander and Murray’s deal would fund the payments to insurers for two years, grant states more flexibility to waive ObamaCare rules and give $106 million to states for ObamaCare advertising.

The White House is seeking substantial changes that could make the legislation more conservative, and thus, less palatable to Democrats.

This includes “relief from the individual and employer mandates; an expansion of affordable coverage options, such as the ones referenced in last week’s executive order; a greater ability for middle-income families to control their healthcare dollars; and meaningful flexibility for states to allow their residents to escape onerous ObamaCare requirements," according to a White House official.