McConnell open to bipartisan deal on health insurance payments
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) is signaling that he's open to a bipartisan deal on key payments to health insurance companies, but warning any agreement needs to include "real reforms."

“If the Democrats are willing to support some real reforms, rather than just an insurance company bailout, I would be willing to take a look at it,” McConnell told reporters in Kentucky ahead of the annual Fancy Farm Picnic over the weekend.

He added that while there is "still a chance" the Senate will take back up its ObamaCare repeal and replace effort, Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Senate approves motion to go to tax conference House conservatives, Ryan inch closer toward spending deal MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats turn on Al Franken VA slashes program that helps homeless veterans obtain housing: report The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Wash.) are also working on "some kind of bipartisan approach" to stabilize the individual insurance market. 

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Several Republican senators, including GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration We are running out of time to protect Dreamers US trade deficit rises on record imports from China MORE (S.C.), are expected to use the August recess to try work on their ObamaCare replacement bills. 

But Alexander and Murray announced last week they would hold a series of bipartisan Health Committee hearings next month. 

Their goal is to craft a insurance stabilization bill by mid-September that is expected to include money for ObamaCare's cost-sharing reduction payments, which President Trump has threatened to cut off. 

"Our goal is to have hearings and come to a consensus by mid-September that would stabilize that individual market and make policies affordable for people like the 350,000 Tennesseans," Alexander told The New York Times

Alexander and Murray could face an uphill battle to getting any legislation to Trump's desk. First, they'll need to clear it through their politically diverse committee, which includes Republican Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLexington mayor launches bid for Congress Trump-free Kennedy Center Honors avoids politics Meet the Iran hawk who could be Trump's next secretary of State MORE (Ky.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (Maine), as well as Democratic Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Regulation: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court battle | Watchdog to investigate EPA chief's meeting with industry group | Ex-Volkswagen exec gets 7 years for emissions cheating Overnight Tech: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court fight | Warren backs bid to block AT&T, Time Warner merger | NC county refuses to pay ransom to hackers Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (Mass.) and Independent Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSchumer: Franken should resign Franken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (Vt.). 

Even if a bill were to pass the Senate, it would likely face greater resistance in the House, where conservatives and outside groups are deeply opposed to what they view as a "bailout" for ObamaCare. 

But Alexander added in his comments to The Times that he thinks lawmakers will be able to find a deal, which he said could include narrow fixes. 

"I think we can do that. I think Democrats and Republicans agree that that market where 6 percent of Americans get their insurance is in trouble and we need to fix it," he said.