Dems to try adding ObamaCare outreach funds to bipartisan fix

Dems to try adding ObamaCare outreach funds to bipartisan fix

Senate Democrats will push to restore ObamaCare outreach funding in a bipartisan health care bill this month after the Trump administration announced drastic cuts to the program.

Democratic aides say the party will seek funding for ObamaCare sign-up efforts in a bipartisan market stabilization bill that the Senate Health Committee is negotiating, a move that comes after the administration announced a 90 percent cut to outreach efforts.

The move adds another contentious element to efforts to forge a bipartisan fix for ObamaCare.  

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Democrats have been outraged by the Trump administration’s announcement last week that it would cut funding for advertising and other outreach to get people to sign up for the health law’s coverage from $100 million to $10 million. Democrats say the move is part of Republican efforts to “sabotage” ObamaCare.

The bipartisan bill being negotiated this month in the Senate Health Committee, aimed at stabilizing ObamaCare markets, provides Democrats an opening to try to address the issue.

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayEXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare Trump's sinking polls embolden Democrats to play hardball MORE (Wash.), the top Democrat on the committee, nodded to the issue in an op-ed Tuesday in The Washington Post.

“Many Democrats are looking to ensure a smooth open-enrollment process despite the administration’s decision to slash outreach and advertising for the exchanges,” Murray wrote.

It is not clear how much money Democrats will push for, though the amount of the funding cut amounts to $90 million.

Another part of the package is likely to be funding for ObamaCare subsidy payments known as cost-sharing reductions, which President Trump has threatened to cancel as part of an effort to make ObamaCare “implode.” 

Democrats want to provide funding for the payments for multiple years, while Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderHere are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 EXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Tenn.) backs just one year. 

Republicans are pushing to give states additional flexibility to loosen ObamaCare regulations through broadening an existing program known as 1332 waivers, which are intended to let states test innovative ObamaCare changes. Democrats, though, are pushing back against GOP efforts to loosen the rules too far.