Capitol Alert

House GOP leader asks Jerry Brown: How would you replace Obamacare?

Jerry Brown: California will work to ensure laws are enforced fairly

Gov. Jerry Brown, joined Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, by his nominee for Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, said California would collaborate where possible with President-elect Donald Trump but also uphold the state's values.
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Gov. Jerry Brown, joined Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, by his nominee for Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, said California would collaborate where possible with President-elect Donald Trump but also uphold the state's values.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has written to Gov. Jerry Brown and the leaders of other states soliciting their input for replacing Obamacare.

Dismantling President Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation has been central to debate in Washington since voters in November handed Republicans control of the White House and Congress.

“As Obamacare continues to saddle patients with less choice, higher costs, and mountains of mandates, it is clear that major health care reforms must be made to strengthen and improve health care for all Americans,” McCarthy wrote in the letter last month, which was signed by five other House Republicans, including Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas.

“Lawmakers, governors, and state insurance commissioners have a tremendous opportunity to achieve our shared goal of enacting health care reforms that lower costs, improve quality, empower states and individuals, and bring our health care system into the 21st century,” they added.

Aides to Brown and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones confirmed receipt of the letter, and responses are due Jan. 13. It’s unclear whether Brown will respond, but Jones’ spokesman said he would be sending a reply.

California, which operates its own health care exchange, could be the biggest loser if the federal health care law is gutted and not replaced.

The state relies heavily on the expansion of Medicaid as well as federal subsidies for those on the exchange, Covered California. The expansion alone has extended coverage to 3.8 million people, and would cost more than $15 billion a year to maintain.

In the letter, which went to Brown, Jones and legislative leaders, McCarthy and his colleagues asked them to provide answers to several questions, including what changes Congress should consider to grant more flexibility to their states, stabilize health insurance markets and reduce costs.

There also were technical questions concerning waivers and Medi-Cal, and whether the states might pursue a high-risk pool if federal law were changed.

“Additionally, we would he honored if you would join us in Washington early next year to discuss your ideas and better inform the work of Congress,” they wrote. “We will invite the Governor and insurance commissioner of every state to attend this meeting.”

Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Wednesday discussed plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's controversial health care law. Pence was on Capitol Hill to meet with Republican congressional leaders to discuss strategy.

State Sen. Ed Hernandez, chair of the Senate Health Committee, warns of a major financial hit on millions of Californians if Obamacare is repealed.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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