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GOP gives ground in ObamaCare stabilization talks

GOP gives ground in ObamaCare stabilization talks
© Greg Nash

Republicans are willing to provide insurers with two years of ObamaCare subsidies under a bipartisan market stabilization bill, according to the Senate Health Committee chairman.

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senate blocks Dem measure on short-term health plans | Trump signs bill banning drug price 'gag clauses' | DOJ approves Aetna-CVS merger | Juul ramps up lobbying Trump signs bills banning drug pricing 'gag clauses' Senate defeats measure to overturn Trump expansion of non-ObamaCare plans MORE (R-Tenn.) said continuing cost-sharing reduction subsidies for two years is a key part of the stabilization package he is trying to negotiate with Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: House passes funding bill | Congress gets deal on opioids package | 80K people died in US from flu last winter Wilkie vows no 'inappropriate influence' at VA Dems push back on using federal funds to arm teachers MORE (D-Wash.).

Alexander and Murray are continuing to try to rally Republicans and Democrats around a short-term plan to lower ObamaCare premiums in 2018 and 2019.

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“The elements of that are continuing cost-sharing payments for two years and to give states meaningful flexibility in the types of policies they can write,” Alexander said Tuesday.

Alexander initially only wanted to fund the payments for one year, while Democrats were pressing for two years.

Republicans pulled the plug on the bipartisan talks when it appeared their last-ditch ObamaCare repeal bill was gaining momentum, but the change in Alexander’s position could be a sign that he and Murray are closing in on an agreement.

The White House has been making the cost-sharing payments on a monthly basis, all while President Trump has continued to threaten to cancel them in a bid to make ObamaCare “implode.”

While Alexander and Murray may be close, the future of the bipartisan fix is unclear.

Many other Senate Republicans, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Congress should work with Trump and not 'cowboy' on Saudi Arabia, says GOP senator US to open trade talks with Japan, EU, UK MORE (R-Utah), are more skeptical of a deal to stabilize ObamaCare than Alexander is.

And the House and White House are also uncertainties.

Alexander said the talks are continuing, and he and Murray plan to meet later on Tuesday.

Asked whether GOP leadership is urging him to continue the talks, Alexander said he thinks they have more important things to worry about.

“Well, I’m telling them that I am continuing the talks. They have lots of other things to worry about today,” he said.