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Bridging The Gap
 John Kasich: End the Partisan Warfare on Health Care
 Friday 10 March, 2017
John Kasich: End the Partisan Warfare on Health Care

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Americans are relying on leaders in Washington to fix health care, not engage in yet another unproductive partisan standoff. In 2010, one side of the political aisle in Congress, the Democrats, chose to “fix” health care unilaterally, without bipartisan support. The result was Obamacare, which has run up government spending while failing to drive down the cost of health care.

Now, with the political tables turned in Washington, the Republicans are starting down the same unilateral path, a course that can only further divide the nation. A true and lasting reform of the health insurance system must be accomplished by bringing the two sides together, not by replacing one divisive wedge with another.

Throughout my career, I’ve learned that meaningful change happens only with bipartisan support. When I was chairman of the House Budget Committee in the 1990s, we were able to make over Pentagon spending, revamp welfare and balance the federal budget for the first time in decades because Democrats and Republicans made a commitment to work together. We disagreed and debated, but in the end we agreed to changes that strengthened our country.

A responsible, and necessary, repeal and replacement of Obamacare must balance cost and coverage. It is unrealistic to think that cutting coverage saves any money, since we will only see uninsured people returning to the emergency room for their care — and walking away from unpaid bills. We can avoid that problem by embracing a plan that both preserves coverage for those who have it and achieves savings with badly needed Medicaid reforms.

I have always opposed Obamacare and consistently called for it to be replaced with more conservative, market-driven reforms that actually control health care costs. Republican legislation now moving swiftly through the House takes steps in that direction. But the legislation also phases out the expanded Medicaid coverage that is in place in Ohio and 30 other states. Not having a viable alternative is counterproductive and unnecessarily puts at risk our ability to treat the drug-addicted, mentally ill and working poor who now have access to a dependable source of care.

Republicans and Democrats can start by working together to stabilize insurance markets, which are slipping into crisis in both red and blue states. Americans without access to employer-sponsored coverage or government plans like Medicare and Medicaid need to have a market that allows them to choose a health plan that fits their needs and is affordable.

Some states, including Ohio, have reformed Medicaid programs to control costs while covering more people, proving that coverage and cost containment can be achieved together. States often serve as the laboratories of change, and Congress should listen to governors who have already done the work necessary to make our Medicaid programs more sustainable while preserving coverage for those who need it most.

One of my first steps as governor was to rein in Medicaid costs. As a result, the state has bent the cost curve of Medicaid from more than 9 percent annual growth to below 3 percent. Today we’re providing better coordinated care, Ohio’s Medicaid program is financially stable and per-member spending has been flat for over six years. We’ve been able to extend health care coverage to about 1 million Ohioans, more than 700,000 of them low-income adults.

In my state, we believe that a job is the best anti-poverty program, so we are working to help neighbors who need a hand move up the economic ladder and get the skills and training they need. As we seek to do this, however, we can’t pull the ladder out from under them by taking away their health care.

Health care is one of the most complex and pressing problems facing the country. If we are to establish a lasting and successful replacement for Obamacare, Republicans should reach across the aisle for help, and Democrats should accept the offer. Cutting Democrats out of the process will only make the results less effective. And if Democrats refuse to cooperate with Republicans, they will be forgoing the opportunity to solve a core problem for millions of Americans, including the most vulnerable, who are dependent on reliable health care coverage.

But if both sides work together, we can fix Obamacare in a way that preserves coverage, stabilizes the market, reforms Medicaid and controls costs. It’s time for Republicans and Democrats to end the civil war over health care and fight for all Americans. That’s how big and necessary change can happen.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/opinion/john-kasich-end-the-partisan-warfare-on-health-care.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

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