GOP senator: Healthcare deal unlikely this year

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrTrump: Why isn't Senate looking into 'Fake News Networks'? Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open Special counsel looking into dossier as part of Russia probe: report MORE (R-N.C.) says he doesn't think Congress is going to reach a deal to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

"It's unlikely that we will get a healthcare deal," Burr said in an interview with a North Carolina news station Thursday. 

"I don't see a comprehensive healthcare plan this year." 

The leading Republican senator also said the House bill was "dead on arrival," adding that it was "not a good plan."

The Senate has been working on a healthcare bill since the House passed its own last month, and Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynGun proposal picks up GOP support House bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Republicans jockey for position on immigration MORE (Texas) said a bill would pass through the chamber by "the end of July at the latest."

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But there are deep divisions on issues such as how to handle the Medicaid expansion and ObamaCare's insurer regulations, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-Ky.) has lowered expectations.

McConnell last week said he did not know how the Senate would get to 51 votes on healthcare and suggested that moving tax reform legislation could be simpler. 

Conservative and centrist Republican senators have very different views on what the healthcare bill should look like. That is complicating any effort to build a consensus GOP position around a bill against what is expected to be unified Democratic opposition. 

Burr indicated the Senate is looking for ways to stabilize the ObamaCare markets in the short term. 

Some states are in danger of having no insurers on the exchanges next year, and some senators have said they're looking for a way to address that. 

"Most of my time has been spent trying to figure out solutions to Iowa losing all its insurers, to Tennessee potentially losing theirs ... that both aide the exchanges or transition it to something that's life after the Affordable Care Act," he said.   

It's unclear what the Senate is considering, but a bill by Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderChildren’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Overnight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Schumer calls for attaching ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance MORE (R-Tenn.) would allow people who live in states with no insurers on the exchanges to use their subsidies for other health plans. 

They would also be exempt from ObamaCare's individual mandate. 

But insurers are also still waiting to hear from the Trump administration about whether it will continue ObamaCare's cost-sharing reduction payments, which reimburse insurers for giving discounts to low-income customers. 

The Trump administration has made the May payment, but said it hasn't made any decision about future payments. 

Insurers filing rate proposals for 2018 have cited uncertainty around the payments as their reason for double-digit premium increases.

The House approved legislation repealing and replacing ObamaCare in April. Major provisions of that legislation are not expected to survive in the Senate, however, both because of opposition from senators and special budgetary rules being used to move the legislation. Those rules prevent Democrats from filibustering the bill, but also impose restrictions on it.