Schumer calls for attaching ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance

Schumer calls for attaching ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThis week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Red-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday called for provisions to stabilize ObamaCare to be combined with a bill reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The move seeks to provide a vehicle for bipartisan ObamaCare provisions to pass the Senate, but it also could complicate negotiations on extending CHIP, which Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOn The Money: Fed chief lays out risks of trade war | Senate floats new Russia sanctions amid Trump backlash | House passes bill to boost business investment Hatch threatens legislative action to rein in Trump tariffs GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki MORE (R-Utah) wanted to keep as a clean bill.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Now that the Senate Finance committee has reauthorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Leader McConnell should immediately put this bill to the Senate floor for a vote and include much-needed bipartisan provisions to stabilize the markets, lower premiums in 2018, and renew funding for community health centers and numerous other important health provisions that expired over the weekend,” Schumer said in a statement.

Schumer is referring to negotiations in the Senate Health Committee between Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSens introduce bipartisan bill matching Zinke proposed maintenance backlog fix Supreme Court vacancy throws Senate battle into chaos Overnight Health Care: Anti-abortion groups see chance to overturn Roe v. Wade with Kennedy retirement | HHS watchdog to probe detention center conditions | VA pick vows to oppose privatization MORE (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women Top Dems urge Trump officials to reverse suspension of ObamaCare payments Dems launch pressure campaign over migrant families MORE (D-Wash.) on provisions to stabilize ObamaCare markets and lower premiums.

The pair is close to a deal, but the politics of the measure are fraught, given that many other Republicans are resistant to what they view as propping up a failing health law.

Asked if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash House passes bipartisan bill to boost business investment MORE (R-Ky.) is open to combining an ObamaCare stabilization bill and CHIP, McConnell spokesman Don Stewart noted that there is no stabilization bill yet, so it is hard to answer a "hypothetical" question.  

Hatch pushed back on Schumer's call. 

"We should not jeopardize vulnerable children's health insurance coverage by turning the bill into a Christmas tree and adding controversial policies like bailing out insurance companies," Hatch said in a statement. "It’s regrettable that some Democrats are more interested in trying to score cheap political points than actually solving the problem.”

Schumer’s call for a deal to be attached to CHIP, a must-pass bill with bipartisan support, is increasing the pressure for the ObamaCare stabilization measure to pass.

The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday advanced the CHIP measure on a bipartisan vote, but lawmakers are still negotiating ways to pay for it.

The House, where Republicans have been even more resistant to ObamaCare stabilization, is also moving forward with a CHIP bill in committee on Wednesday.

CHIP authorization expired on Sept. 30, but states have a couple months before they run out of funds.

This story was updated at 5:13 p.m.