Bipartisan senators discuss path forward on ObamaCare fix

Bipartisan senators discuss path forward on ObamaCare fix
© Greg Nash

Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderWeek ahead: Lawmakers near deal on children's health funding Ryan suggests room for bipartisanship on ObamaCare Time to end fiscal year foolishness MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayCDC director to miss fourth hearing because of potential ethics issues Week ahead: Lawmakers near deal on children's health funding Ryan suggests room for bipartisanship on ObamaCare MORE (D-Wash.) met Wednesday to discuss the path forward for their bipartisan legislation aimed at stabilizing ObamaCare, aides in both parties said.

The legislation’s future has been thrown into question after it was punted at the end of last month. Alexander is now pushing for the legislation to be included in a government funding package when a long-term deal on that measure is reached.

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Murray and other Democrats, though, want significant changes to the bill, saying that it needs to be redone now that Republicans have destabilized health insurance markets by repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate in the tax-reform bill last month.

Democrats have not yet said what changes they are looking for.

But Alexander told reporters on Wednesday that the bill will remain “fundamentally what was agreed to.”

“It's fundamentally what was agreed to,” he said. “It's what we recommended, plus the Collins-Nelson risk pool."

Alexander was referring to a companion bill from Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocrats search for 51st net neutrality vote Overnight Tech: States sue FCC over net neutrality repeal | Senate Dems reach 50 votes on measure to override repeal | Dems press Apple on phone slowdowns, kids' health | New Android malware found Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals MORE (R-Maine) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonSenate campaign fundraising reports roll in Week ahead: Tech giants to testify on extremist content Puerto Rico's children need recovery funds MORE (D-Fla.) that provides funding known as reinsurance aimed at bringing down premiums.

Collins is a key player on the issue, since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE (R-Ky.) gave her a commitment to support passage of the two ObamaCare fixes in exchange for her vote for tax reform. Consideration of the two bills was originally supposed to occur before the end of 2017, but has now been put off.

The Alexander-Murray bill funds key payments to insurers known as cost-sharing reductions that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE cancelled last year. But Democrats say that measure needs to be rethought now that many experts say cancelling the payments has actually helped the law through a quirk that led to increased subsidies that help people afford coverage.