Ohio governor appears with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in Washington on Friday to promote their bipartisan plan.
WASHINGTON Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Friday suggested increased flexibility in the essential health benefits that were established under the 2010 health care law, arguing that such items as maternity coverage should be on a menu of options that customers can choose to purchase.
“As long as there’s a common-sense interpretation of what ‘comprehensive’ is, it’s all cool,” Kasich said, saying a healthy 23-year-old patient might opt for a catastrophic health care plan and a medical savings account rather than a plan that includes maternity care.
“But,” he added, “there has to be some sense of core benefits.”
Kasich, a Republican, appeared with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, at a panel discussion jointly organized by the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the liberal Center for American Progress in downtown Washington, D.C.
The 2010 law known as Obamacare required all Americans to carry health insurance, subsidizing the cost for those who could not afford it. Customers were required to buy plans that covered a range of “essential services” that included maternity care, hospital coverage and other health benefits. Kasich suggested such services could be made more flexible.
Kasich said the issue has become so tightly wrapped in politics that “Republicans don’t want to say they will be connected to anything related to Obamacare no matter what it is and Democrats don’t want to be connected to anything that erodes any part of Obamacare.”
He said he wished that they could focus on solving the problem, rather than instinctively be for or against something.
“I want to have a marketplace where people can buy insurance. And if people can’t afford it, let’s give them some money so that they can have it. … Why do we have to keep putting names on everything?” he asked.
The two governors came under the auspices of promoting their plan to stabilize the individual insurance marketplaces — Hickenlooper testified about the proposal before a Senate committee Thursday — but were also clearly in town to model the benefits of a bipartisan partnership.
“John and I have fun,” Kasich said. “We like each other. We have a great time. So what is there to fight about? Just get through it.”
Earlier in the day, the two gushed over the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers that is pushing a solution similar to the Kasich-Hickenlooper proposal, with Kasich urging the caucus to “solve problems from the middle out.”
Arguing that partisan fighting and pandering to the base is “ruining the country,” Kasich made it clear that he thought both tax reform and a recent executive order regarding immigration were issues both sides needed to work on collaboratively.
“You’ll be remembered for this,” he told the group of its work on health care.
Later, at the panel discussion, they were asked where they disagree on health care. They wouldn’t answer.
“I don’t like to answer those questions,” Hickenlooper said. “Because that’s exactly what happened to the Beatles.”
“Why would we talk about that?” Kasich asked. “If two sides want to come up with something, there are really no obstacles. Work your way around it. If you have a will, there’s a way.”