governors want Congress to keep funding health benefits
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[January 20, 2017]
By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Republican
governors on Thursday urged Washington lawmakers to keep funding health
benefits for millions of low-income Americans, even as Congress is
working to repeal Obamacare, President Barack Obama's landmark health
Ohio Governor John Kasich, one of 10 governors who met Republican
lawmakers in Washington, suggested that those who gained Medicaid
coverage under an Obamacare-financed expansion could instead be
given either premium subsidies or tax credits for buying private
Medicaid is the U.S. government health insurance program for the
poor. An expansion of Medicaid with federal funding was one of the
larger provisions of Obamacare when Congress passed the law in 2010.
States were allowed to choose whether to adopt the Medicaid
expansion, and 31 states including Ohio did so.
But if that expansion is cut and not replaced as part of the repeal
of Obamacare that congressional Republicans are working on now, at
least 10 million low-income people could lose their health
"There are some fundamental things that we can do that can settle
people down, so they are not worried they are going to lose their
coverage, but at the same time bring significant changes to the
Obamacare package," Kasich, a former Republican presidential
candidate, told reporters after the meeting with other Republican
governors and lawmakers hosted by the Senate finance committee.
Ending Obamcare was a campaign promise of Republicans including
President-elect Donald Trump.
But Thursday's conversation underlined anxiety about the Obamacare
repeal process and the fears that people will lose their health
insurance before a replacement is found.
"It ain't gonna happen. Nobody's going to lose coverage," Republican
Senator John Cornyn said as he left the meeting, adding that he
thought Kasich had offered some "creative" ideas for dealing with
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Congress voted last week to start dismantling Obamacare, despite
concerns about not having a replacement ready. More than 20 million
previously uninsured Americans gained coverage through Obamacare.
About half the coverage was extended by expanding Medicaid and the
other half through online exchanges where consumers can receive
Republicans say a good replacement would give states more control of
healthcare programs and provide more stability in health insurance
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was optimistic funds for the
expanded Medicaid program will keep flowing from Washington.
"I've been in Washington before. When you talk about cuts, you're
talking about reducing the growth level of spending," Hutchinson
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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