WASHINGTON — Gov. Larry Hogan weighed into the health care fray again Wednesday, signing a bipartisan letter to Senate leaders that opposes the so-called "skinny repeal" plan emerging as a potentially viable option to dismantle Obamacare.
"Congress should be working to make health insurance more affordable while stabilizing the health insurance market," Hogan and nine other governors wrote in the letter.
The state leaders, who could be blamed for rate hikes caused by congressional action, said the skinny repeal would "accelerate health plans leaving the individual market, increase premiums, and result in fewer Americans having access to coverage."
Senate leaders are considering a pared down repeal that would eliminate unpopular provisions of the 2010 Obamacare law, such as the requirement that all Americans carry some level of insurance or face a tax penalty. But that provision underpins the entire Obamacare system – making another measure, guaranteed coverage for people with preexisting conditions, possible.
Without a requirement for healthy people to carry insurance, the system breaks down because no one would purchase coverage until they became sick. The Congressional Budget Office estimated Wednesday that as many as 16 million people could lose their coverage under that arrangement.
Republican leaders are hopeful a skinny repeal could garner majority support in the Senate so that the chamber could bring something into a conference committee. That would allow Senate and House leaders to begin negotiations on a final bill.
But the governors dismissed that idea.
"Instead, we ask senators to work with governors on solutions to problems we can all agree on: fixing our unstable insurance markets," they wrote. "The next best step is for senators and governors of both parties to come together to work to improve our health care system."
The letter marks the second time in as many weeks Hogan and other Republican governors have openly questioned the strategy embraced by their party's leaders in Washington. After months of avoiding questions of national policy, Hogan has become increasingly vocal on health care.
Last week Hogan and other governors wrote a letter opposing the so-called repeal-and-delay strategy that would have unwound the Affordable Care Act now and then held off on a replacement.
Wednesday's letter was also signed by the Democratic governors of Colorado, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Montana and Louisiana and the Republican governors of Nevada, Massachusetts, Ohio and Vermont.