Real Bipartisanship Begins at Home, Governor

Denver — Statehouse Republicans have a number of questions they’d like to ask Gov. John Hickenlooper about the nominally “bipartisan” Obamacare rescue plan he rolled out last week in tandem with Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich. But because Hickenlooper hasn't seen fit to consult with them on the plan, they put some of their questions in a letter to Republican members of the US Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions, in hope that they'll be asked when Hickenlooper testifies before the panel later today.

Senate President Kevin J. Grantham concedes that mailing-in questions from 1,500 miles away isn't the ideal way to conduct such a dialogue. “But the governor didn’t bother to discuss his supposedly-bipartisan plan with Colorado Republicans," said Grantham, "so we thought we’d give this a shot."

 The letter*, signed by Grantham and three other Senators, includes the following 7 questions for Hickenlooper, which they intend to get answers to one way or another.

 “1. Why do the proposals not offer any solutions for reining in the rapid growth of Medicaid as the default option for millions of people seeking insurance coverage, when 82% of new coverage purchased through the Colorado health benefits exchange since ACA was implemented in 2013 – and 89% nationally -- has been in Medicaid enrollment, not private insurance plans?

 2. The governors’ seven-page plan is silent on how to attack the cost drivers for rapidly increasing health care costs, the major underlying problem facing all health care consumers.

 3. The governors’ plan is silent on how to rein in the escalating premiums and cost of deductibles in plans offered on the state exchange, with a 2017-2018 increase in premiums for individuals plans expected to average 26.9% statewide.

4. The governors’ plan offers no specific recommendation for modifying the onerous burdens in current law placed on small employer plans. Does Governor Hickenlooper, as a former small business employer, have any personal thoughts or recommendations on that important issue?

5. The plan offers only a mention and no concrete proposals for modifying the current ACA mandate on “essential benefits,” with no endorsement of offering states additional options for crafting benefit plans that meet the needs of each state’s citizens instead of a mandate for uniform plans across 50 diverse states.

6. What new incentives can be devised for persuading younger and healthier people to purchase insurance without the onerous, punitive and largely unsuccessful “individual mandate” in current law?

 7. The plan makes vague references to allowing more state-level flexibility through innovation waivers, but it is woefully short on concrete proposals. The plan appears fixated on holding states harmless against potential federal funding reductions, but it offers no suggestions for how states can control their own escalating health care expenditures.”

Grantham said he has a hard time understanding how the governor can continue to tout his plan in the state and national media as “bipartisan” when only 2 of 34 Republican governors had signed it (as of last week) and Colorado Republicans haven’t been part of the process. “It’s great that the Governor can make friends with Republican colleagues in Ohio and a few other states, but if we’re going to come-up with a Colorado solution to these issues, in a truly bipartisan way, Colorado Republicans should have a place at the table that they haven't had so far."

 

Please direct any questions to Sean Paige at 719-337-0355.

* Please email Policy Director Charles Heatherly at Charles.Heatherly@state.co.us if you would like a PDF version of the complete letter.

 

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