- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Senate Health Committee will hear from five governors — three Republicans and two Democrats — when it convenes a hearing on Obamacare’s wobbly insurance markets next month, the panel announced Wednesday.

Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican, said the Sept. 7 panel will include his home state’s GOP governor, Bill Haslam.

Rounding out the witness list are Democratic governors John W. Hickenlooper of Colorado and Steve Bullock of Montana and Republican governors Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Gary Herbert of Utah.

Already, Mr. Hickenlooper is working on bipartisan Obamacare reforms with Republican Gov. John Kasich, a Republican.

Mr. Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the committee, say governors and state insurance commissioners — who will testify one day before the governors — are best-equipped to devise fixes to Obamacare’s web-based exchanges, after congressional Republicans failed to rally around a bill that would have repealed the 2010 law and established a transition period to a more conservative system.

Many consumers will face dwindling choices and double-digit rate increases when open enrollment begins in November, after Obamacare failed to attract enough young and healthy customers in earlier signup seasons.

President Trump’s refusal to commit to “cost-sharing” reimbursements for insurers and the individual mandate designed to herd people into the marketplace is also causing insurers to request higher rates.

Mr. Alexander says the 18 million Americans who buy insurance on their own are counting on Congress to bolster the markets in 2018, though his push for a stabilization bill must compete with a series of must-pass legislative items next month, from funding federal agencies to raising the debt ceiling.

Conservatives are also wary of voting for any legislation that appears to bolster Obamacare or provide a “bailout” to insurers on its exchanges.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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