Alexander: Major differences still remain for compromise ObamaCare bill

Alexander: Major differences still remain for compromise ObamaCare bill
© Greg Nash

Senate Health Committee Chairman 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.) indicated on Tuesday that Democrats and Republicans are still far apart on finding a path to a compromise bill to stabilize ObamaCare.

Alexander said Republicans want to make it easier for states to waive certain coverage protections, and Democrats will need to accept such changes if they want funding for insurers to help prevent an insurance premium spike.

“I would caution members that there are still significant differences to deal with," Alexander said during his opening remarks at the panel’s Tuesday hearing. 

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"A true compromise requires Democrats to accept something Republicans want— more flexibility for states— and Republicans to accept something Democrats want — continued funding for cost-sharing payments,” he said.

The hearing is the third in a series of bipartisan efforts to find a compromise to stabilize ObamaCare’s insurance markets. Alexander and the committee’s Democrats largely agree on the need to fund the payments but disagree on how long they should be funded for.

Democrats want multiple years, but Republicans back funding them for one year.

Alexander downplayed the notion that he wants to undo ObamaCare’s basic protections, including the requirements that nobody can be charged more if they have a pre-existing condition, and that everyone is guaranteed to be sold insurance.

"I want to be clear that I am not in any way proposing that we change the patient protection guardrails already written," Alexander said. 

And his vision of bipartisan compromise is also complicated by Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Utah governor calls Bannon a 'bigot' after attacks on Romney MORE (R-Utah), who has repeatedly said he thinks the proposals being discussed are an ObamaCare bailout.