Bullock among 7 governors calling for bipartisan health-care reform

“Congress is moving full speed ahead to pass legislation that will increase healthcare costs for hard-working Montanans and their families, cut coverage for seniors and kids, and gut protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions – all behind closed doors,” Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock joined six other governors – Republicans and Democrats – in calling for a bipartisan approach to health-care reform.

In a letter to the U.S. Senate on Friday, the governors outlined guiding principles that they believe will ensure the availability of quality health insurance for every American.

In their letter, the governors wrote that “Medicaid provisions included in the (House-passed health-care) bill are particularly problematic. Instead, we recommend Congress address factors we can all agree need fixing.”

Other governors signing the letter are Ohio Republican John Kasich, Colorado Democrat John Hickenlooper, Nevada Republican Brian Sandoval, Pennsylvania Democrat Tom Wolf, Massachusetts Republican Charlie Baker and Louisiana Democrat John Bel Edwards.

“While we certainly agree that reforms need to be made to our nation’s health-care system, as governors from both sides of the political aisle we feel that true and lasting reforms are best approached by finding common ground in a bipartisan fashion,” the governors wrote. “To that end, we remain hopeful that there is an opportunity to craft solutions to these challenges that can find support across party lines, delivering improvements to result in a system that is available and affordable for every American.”

The U.S. House has already passed a repeal and revision of the Affordable Care Act. A group of senators is now  meeting behind closed doors to write the Senate’s version of health-care reform. That measure has not been released to the public or to other senators.

Rather than focusing on changes to Medicaid, the seven governors called on Congress to first address challenges to the private health insurance system.

They also listed “guiding principles” for addressing health-care costs, including restoring stability to insurance markets, providing state flexibility and encouraging innovation, and improving the regulatory environment.

A new independent analysis earlier this week detailed the effects of the current health-care proposal on Montana, including a $4.8 billion loss in federal funding, $500 million negative economic impact, 132,000 Montanans at risk of losing health insurance, and thousands of job losses.