Governor Charlie Baker on Monday urged politicians in Washington, D.C., to take action on several looming health care issues, saying it was a shame that the debate has been dominated by partisan efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
US Senate Republicans’ latest effort to dismantle the law, also known as Obamacare, fizzled last week. Democrats and some Republicans – including Baker – opposed the repeal effort, which was projected to cost Massachusetts billions in federal health care funding and result in fewer people having health insurance.
Baker said Congress should now work quickly to stabilize health insurance markets and authorize funding for two government-funded programs, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and community health centers. The deadline to continue funding for both programs was Sept. 30.
“While [Congress’s] lack of action on some of the issues around ACA reform may have been good news, there’s a whole bunch of other things where lack of action creates real issues for everybody and in a very immediate term,” Baker said at the state Health Policy Commission’s annual hearing on health care costs.
Baker was among five governors who last month spoke before the Senate health committee in Washington and asked Congress to ensure the payment of federal government subsidies that help reduce the cost of insurance for lower-income Americans. President Trump, whose administration has control over the payments, has threatened to pull the subsidies.
If the subsidies are ended, insurers are expected to drastically raise insurance rates for 2018.
At the September hearing in Washington, Baker often found himself in agreement with one of the most liberal members of the chamber, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
“I’m still waiting on the bipartisan conversation on health care . . . in Washington,” he said Monday.
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