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Bipartisan plan led by Hickenlooper, Kasich to address health care released

DENVER — Gov. John Hickenlooper and Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Thursday released a bipartisan plan to stabilize the individual health insurance market.

The seven-page letter was sent to congressional leaders and was signed by six other governors.

The Colorado Democrat and Ohio Republican headed effort to form the plan.

It recommends the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act remain in place in the immediate future and calls on Congress to create tax exemptions for insurance carriers who sell plans in underserved counties.

RELATED: Hickenlooper-Kasich health care plan

“As Congress considers reforms to strengthen our nation’s health insurance system, we ask you to take immediate steps to make coverage more stable and affordable,” according to the letter.

“The current state of our individual market is unsustainable, and we can all agree this is a problem that needs to be fixed. Governors have already made restoring stability and affordability in this market a priority, and we look forward to partnering with you in this effort.”

The bill was also signed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Democrat Govs. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, John Bel Edwards of Louisiana and Steve Bullock of Montana, and independent Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska.

Among the recommendations, the governors said cost-sharing reduction payments should be made to keep premiums from spiking.

A stability fund should be established for states to create reinsurance programs. And young people should be encourage to get insurance.

Keeping the unpopular individual mandate is the most controversial part of the recommendations, but the governors say it’s “perhaps the most important incentive” to keep the insurance market stable.

“Until Congress comes up with a better solution — or states request waivers to implement a workable alternative — the individual mandate is necessary to keep markets stable in the short term,” according to the letter.

Kasich and Hickenlooper have been working for several months to come up with the plan. There also have been reports the two will run as an independent ticket for president in 2020.