Hickenlooper’s next major test is his national health care proposal. Can he win over both parties?

Aug 31, 2017

Mark Wilson, Getty Images

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) (L) and Gov. John Kasich, (R-OH) participate in a bipartisan news conference to discuss the Senate health care reform bill at the National Press Club on June 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. The governors called on Senate Democrats and Republicans to work together to come up with a better health care bill.

By   | The Denver Post

Donna Smith, Executive Director – Progressive Democrats of America, shares her story with Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The bipartisan initiative with Ohio Governor John Kasich is expected to go public Thursday

Between gasps from an oxygen tank, Donna Smith told Gov. John Hickenlooper the story about how medical bills bankrupted her family and how she needs the health care exchange to find insurance.

She encouraged the governor to continue his work to find fixes that will reassure those such as her who depend on the Affordable Care Act.

“We are going to have to let people like me know that we don’t want you to die — that we don’t want you to end your life because you don’t want to bankrupt your family again,” Smith, a liberal activist, said at the governor’s recent town hall in Aurora.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said the situation illustrates the urgency behind his effort with other governors — notably Ohio’s John Kasich, a Republican — to craft a bipartisan proposal to improve the nation’s health care system. “People’s lives depend on it,” Hickenlooper said.

The Hickenlooper-Kasich coalition is expected to present their ideas Thursday, and the duo promised substantive policy initiatives that can win support from Democrats and Republicans.

It’s a difficult task, given the inability of the Republican-led Congress to advance a plan earlier this year to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, sometimes called Obamacare.

“I’m not blind. We can come up with some great ideas, and right now, the way the landscape in Washington appears, even the best ideas would probably be shouted down,” Hickenlooper said in a recent interview. “We know it’s a hard job. We know it’s not an easy task. But we gain nothing if we just sit on the sidelines.”

The moment represents a significant test for Hickenlooper, who is establishing a larger national profile and generating speculation about a possible 2020 presidential bid. He is scheduled to testify Sept. 7 on Capitol Hill before the Senate Health Committee about ways to fix the health care law.

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