GOP senator floats changes to bipartisan ObamaCare deal

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate' GOP chairman warns of ISIS's ‘cyber caliphate’ Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him MORE (R-Wis.) is floating changes to a bipartisan deal to stabilize insurance markets that would pull the measure to the right.

Johnson said he’s discussed the changes with Sen. 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.) — the Senate Health Committee chairman who brokered the deal with Sen. 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.) — and Johnson contends they’re crucial to shoring up support for the bill in the House.

Through his spokesman, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight 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 MORE (R-Wis.) indicated he opposed the Alexander-Murray proposal on Wednesday.

President Trump did the same, seemingly reversing course on his previous comments that the deal provided “a short-term solution so that we don’t have this very dangerous little period” for insurance companies.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that Trump opposes a bipartisan deal to help stabilize ObamaCare in its current form.
 
Johnson said he is seeking to increase the duration of short-term health plans to a 364-day limit; expand health savings accounts; not enforce the employer mandate; and waive the individual insurance mandate penalty for 2017.  

It’s unclear if Alexander would support Johnson’s changes, and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAmerica isn't ready to let Sessions off his leash Schumer celebrates New York Giants firing head coach: ‘About time’ GOP should reject the left's pessimism and the deficit trigger MORE (D-N.Y.) said he strongly prefers with sticking to the deal as is.

“They came up with what we think is a balanced and fair plan, and we ought to try to get that done,” Schumer told reporters Wednesday. A Democratic aide wrote in an email that there is strong Democratic support for the agreement. 

Johnson’s changes have the support of at least one high-ranking Republican: Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoScalise: House, Senate ‘pretty close’ on tax bill Top GOP senator: House and Senate 'not that far apart' on tax bill Sunday shows preview: Republicans take victory lap on taxes MORE (Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee caucus. He said he likes Johnson’s ideas and supports continuing to work on the deal.

But it’s hard to see the provisions garnering Democratic support.

“[Alexander and I] are both interested in getting a result,” Johnson told reporters. “He's dealing with the hurdle of the Senate, I'm trying to, some extent, deal with the hurdle in the House and maybe both of our efforts can come together and show members of Congress that this is what we're going to need to do to really alleviate the increasing premiums, which are going to hurt Americans.”

Peter Sullivan contributed to this report.