McConnell open to bipartisan deal on health insurance payments

Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is signaling that he’s open to a bipartisan deal on key payments to health insurance companies, but warning any agreement needs to include “real reforms.”

“If the Democrats are willing to support some real reforms, rather than just an insurance company bailout, I would be willing to take a look at it,” McConnell told reporters in Kentucky ahead of the annual Fancy Farm Picnic over the weekend.

He added that while there is “still a chance” the Senate will take back up its ObamaCare repeal and replace effort, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are also working on “some kind of bipartisan approach” to stabilize the individual insurance market. 

{mosads}Several Republican senators, including GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), are expected to use the August recess to try work on their ObamaCare replacement bills. 

But Alexander and Murray announced last week they would hold a series of bipartisan Health Committee hearings next month. 

Their goal is to craft a insurance stabilization bill by mid-September that is expected to include money for ObamaCare’s cost-sharing reduction payments, which President Trump has threatened to cut off. 

“Our goal is to have hearings and come to a consensus by mid-September that would stabilize that individual market and make policies affordable for people like the 350,000 Tennesseans,” Alexander told The New York Times

Alexander and Murray could face an uphill battle to getting any legislation to Trump’s desk. First, they’ll need to clear it through their politically diverse committee, which includes Republican Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Susan Collins (Maine), as well as Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.). 

Even if a bill were to pass the Senate, it would likely face greater resistance in the House, where conservatives and outside groups are deeply opposed to what they view as a “bailout” for ObamaCare. 

But Alexander added in his comments to The Times that he thinks lawmakers will be able to find a deal, which he said could include narrow fixes. 

“I think we can do that. I think Democrats and Republicans agree that that market where 6 percent of Americans get their insurance is in trouble and we need to fix it,” he said. 

Tags Bernie Sanders Elizabeth Warren Lamar Alexander Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell Patty Murray Rand Paul Susan Collins

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