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Hickenlooper on 'Face the Nation:' Governors can lead on health care plan

August 6, 2017 Updated: August 7, 2017 at 7:19 am
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photo - FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2017 file photo, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper delivers his annual State of the State in the state legislature in Denver. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2017 file photo, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper delivers his annual State of the State in the state legislature in Denver. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File) 

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, and his pal John Kasich, Ohio's Republican governor, said Sunday morning that bipartisanship at the state level could lead Washington out of gridlock over health care.

"Face the Nation" host John Dickerson asked Hickenlooper how the politics of it would work, and whether it would start from the "base of friendship" he and Kasich had built.

"I think the plan is that we begin to look at how do we get to those solutions and really stabilize the private markets, and how are we going to get to these reinsurance or high-cost pools, and as we do that we'll include more governors, Republicans and Democrats," the Colorado governor said.

He added, "At some point obviously, we need to work with the senators."

Hickenlooper cited Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, but not Colorado's GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, who could face Hickenlooper on Election Day in 2020. Hick is prevented from running again for governor in 2018 by term limits.

"I think we'll be surprised at the number of senators that are willing to kind of step back and say, 'All right, let's roll up our sleeves and work on a bipartisan basis and see how far we can go,'" Hickenlooper said.

Dickerson asked Kasich, a former member of the U.S. House, if a governor had brought in a "bunch of great ideas" when he was in Washington would Congress have listened.

"We did listen to them," he replied, citing the balancing of the federal budget in 1997.

Kasich said he had talked with Sen. Dick Durbin, the Democrat from Illinois.

"He said, 'There's a lot of politics, but I'm worried about people,'" Kasich recounted. "I think there is a hunger in the Congress, at least in the Senate, to try to do what they went to do, which is to solve problems, and you can't solve immense, difficult problems without both sides."

Hickenlooper added, maybe governors are modeling some behavior for Congress, but said it's already starting in Congress.

"We all agree, Democrats agree, there are improvements that need to be made to the Affordable Care Act," he said. "We have to control costs, but we don't want to roll back coverage for lots of people, and we realize the imperative to stabilize the private markets."

During the seven-minute segment, Hickenlooper and Kasich named a handful of congressional members on board with the bipartisan pitch, but none of them were from Colorado.

Senate Republicans couldn't manage to repeal or replace Obamacare last month, despite seven years of fiercely partisan promises to do that once they got the White House. President Donald Trump made it a centerpiece promise of his campaign, along with locking up Hillary Clinton and building a border wall that Mexico pays for.

Kasich was a Republican candidate for president last year, and Hickenlooper is flirting with the idea of running for national office, saying at a Politico forum in Denver last week that he hasn't ruled out anything.

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