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Scott Calls For Bipartisan Effort To Strengthen The Affordable Care Act

Gov. Phil Scott says he is confident Democratic leaders will drop their plan to raise the statewide property tax rate to avoid a government shutdown on July first
Bob Kinzel
Gov. Phil Scott is part of a bipartisan group of governors working on ways to strengthen the Affordable Care Act

As Congress considers changes to the Affordable Care Act, a bipartisan group of governors is hoping to play an important role in the debate over a new health care bill. Gov. Phil Scott says the only way to tackle the issue is for Republicans and Democrats to work together.

"I think whatever path we go down has to be a bipartisan effort,” said Scott. “I believe the goal that they seek - to try to bring everyone together to make sure the markets are stabilized and that we arrive at some consensus - is the only way this is going to work."  

The governors are considering a number of provisions that are designed to stabilize the private insurance market.

These include making a long term commitment to federal subsidies, keeping the individual mandate, giving states more flexibility, and creating a re-insurance pool for patients who need the most expensive care.

Scott says the nation's governors offer an important perspective on the health care issue.

"I think the governors, in particular, have an interest in trying to work together with some commonsense legislation and I believe this is a good start and I believe we can build some consensus from here," said Scott. 

Scott notes that Democrats were able to pass the Affordable Care Act in 2010 with no Republican votes. He thinks that partisan approach undermined support for the law.

"I think whatever path we go down has to be a bipartisan effort and that we arrive at some consensus is the only way this is going to work." —Gov. Phil Scott

The governor says GOP leaders need to learn from that mistake and must include Democrats in the process of developing new legislation.

"We're going to end up in the same place if the Republicans push forward with an initiative that isn't backed by Democrats,” said Scott. “In another four to six years we'll be back in the same place."  

Several months ago, Rep. Peter Welch became one of the first members of the House Democratic caucus to say that the Affordable Care Act had problems that needed to be addressed.

He says it's very important for Democrats to acknowledge that there are steps that can be taken to improve the ACA. Welch supports the work of the governors.

"I said 'look, if Hillary Clinton were president she'd be advocating fixes in the individual market so why won't we make those fixes because they need to be made,'” said Welch. “It doesn't matter who the president is."

"I mean the governors are very close obviously to the people in the state they represent and members of Congress notice that."— Rep. Peter Welch

And Welch thinks the work of the governors will have a positive impact on the Congressional debate.

"Because what it does is show that there's some grassroots support,” said Welch. “I mean the governors are very close obviously to the people in the state they represent, and members of Congress notice that and this plan is very similar, that the governors proposed, to what a number of us proposed about a month ago."   

Welch says he's hopeful that Congress will adopt the bipartisan approach this fall.

"I am because you've got pretty responsible and well placed folks in the committees in the Senate in particular that want to make progress on the individual market side,” Welch said.  

Ohio Republican John Kasich and Colorado Democrat John Hickenlooper are the lead governors of the bipartisan coalition. Both of them are in Washington this week testifying about their proposal.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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