GOP governors offer own set of healthcare reforms as Senate discussions heat up

Signs saying healthcare reform
Several U.S. governors are looking to get involved in the Senate's health reform debate. (Getty/Eugenia Chaikina)

About a dozen U.S. governors are offering their own set of reforms and stepping into an active role in the healthcare debate as the Senate takes up the American Health Care Act.

The group, led by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, drew up their initial plans earlier this year, with the goal of preserving Medicaid expansion that took place under the Affordable Care Act. The bipartisan group is also developing ways to bolster the individual markets, which have drawn ire from the GOP amid premium hikes in some parts of the country, according to an article from Reuters.

RELATED: GOP governors plot to preserve Medicaid expansion

The group has yet to issue specific strategies it thinks would accomplish that goal, according to the article, but ultimately it wants to create more stable markets and more affordable plans.

Governors in expansion states will have the chance to flex their muscles in the healthcare debate, as a number of the senators working on that chamber’s version of the bill are also from states that expanded the program. Governors are also key stakeholders in the discussion because they will ultimately be responsible for implementing what form of the bill, if any, is signed into law.

RELATED: Ted Cruz, GOP senators from Medicaid expansion states will play major role in healthcare bill rewrite

"They are definitely hearing our concerns and questions. They have been very attentive to our interests," Nathan Checketts, deputy director of the Utah Department of Health, told Reuters.

Kasich, specifically, has not shied away from open criticism of the AHCA:

The Medicaid issue will be a key one for the Senate, experts have said, especially as the House’s bill would strip millions in federal funding from the program. Senators aim to strike a balance between the needs of expansion states that want to protect coverage and the nonexpansion states that don't want financial penalties for failure to expand the program.

The governors' proposal suggested that an ACA replacement plan keep the original law’s expansion opportunities in place, and allow other states to expand if they chose, according to Reuters. But the federal government would be able to cap spending on certain populations through block grants or per capita caps, they added. They also recommended that the feds loosen regulations on states for how they handle their Medicaid programs.

As the Medicaid debate heats up in the Senate, a new poll found that a plurality of American voters support continued Medicaid expansion. A joint survey from Politico and Morning Consult found that 46% believe that Medicaid expansion should continue under a law that would replace the ACA. The figure included 63% of Democrats, 45% of Independents and 26% of Republicans.

GOP voters were the only group that favored rolling back Medicaid expansion, but not by a wide margin, as 29% said they supported a rollback. In addition, 21% said they supported continued expansion that would end in 2020, as is outlined in the AHCA. Just 9% of Democrats and 13% of Independents supported the AHCA’s plan.