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Schumer calls for attaching ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance

Schumer calls for attaching ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell: COVID-19 relief will be added to omnibus spending package Overnight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases The five biggest challenges facing President-elect Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday called for provisions to stabilize ObamaCare to be combined with a bill reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The move seeks to provide a vehicle for bipartisan ObamaCare provisions to pass the Senate, but it also could complicate negotiations on extending CHIP, which Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMellman: What happened after Ginsburg? Bottom line Bottom line MORE (R-Utah) wanted to keep as a clean bill.

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“Now that the Senate Finance committee has reauthorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Leader McConnell should immediately put this bill to the Senate floor for a vote and include much-needed bipartisan provisions to stabilize the markets, lower premiums in 2018, and renew funding for community health centers and numerous other important health provisions that expired over the weekend,” Schumer said in a statement.

Schumer is referring to negotiations in the Senate Health Committee between Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderMurkowski: Trump should concede White House race Mark Kelly to be sworn in as senator on Wednesday Congress set for chaotic year-end sprint MORE (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayCriminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot National reading, math tests postponed to 2022 amid coronavirus surge Democratic anger rises over Trump obstacles to Biden transition MORE (D-Wash.) on provisions to stabilize ObamaCare markets and lower premiums.

The pair is close to a deal, but the politics of the measure are fraught, given that many other Republicans are resistant to what they view as propping up a failing health law.

Asked if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Criminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot MORE (R-Ky.) is open to combining an ObamaCare stabilization bill and CHIP, McConnell spokesman Don Stewart noted that there is no stabilization bill yet, so it is hard to answer a "hypothetical" question.  

Hatch pushed back on Schumer's call. 

"We should not jeopardize vulnerable children's health insurance coverage by turning the bill into a Christmas tree and adding controversial policies like bailing out insurance companies," Hatch said in a statement. "It’s regrettable that some Democrats are more interested in trying to score cheap political points than actually solving the problem.”

Schumer’s call for a deal to be attached to CHIP, a must-pass bill with bipartisan support, is increasing the pressure for the ObamaCare stabilization measure to pass.

The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday advanced the CHIP measure on a bipartisan vote, but lawmakers are still negotiating ways to pay for it.

The House, where Republicans have been even more resistant to ObamaCare stabilization, is also moving forward with a CHIP bill in committee on Wednesday.

CHIP authorization expired on Sept. 30, but states have a couple months before they run out of funds.

This story was updated at 5:13 p.m.