GOP senator floats changes to bipartisan ObamaCare deal

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonJuan Williams: Putin wins as GOP spins GOP senator: Harley-Davidson is right to move some production overseas GOP senator: Trump’s policies doing 'permanent damage' 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 AlexanderBipartisan bill would bring needed funds to deteriorating National Park Service infrastructure Sens introduce bipartisan bill matching Zinke proposed maintenance backlog fix Supreme Court vacancy throws Senate battle into chaos MORE (R-Tenn.) — the Senate Health Committee chairman who brokered the deal with 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.) — and Johnson contends they’re crucial to shoring up support for the bill in the House.

Through his spokesman, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWhy the rush to condemn a carbon tax? House votes to go to conference on farm bill House backs resolution expressing support for ICE 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 SchumerDemocrats slam Trump for considering Putin’s ’absurd’ request to question Americans Judge Kavanaugh confounds the left This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation 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 BarrassoRepublican bill aims to deter NATO members from using Russian pipeline Overnight Energy: Fewer than half of school districts test for lead | Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act | FEMA avoids climate change when discussing plan for future storms Senate adds members to pro-NATO group 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.