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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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMcConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers Senate Dems race to save Menendez in deep-blue New Jersey 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 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) 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 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.) and 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.) 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 McConnellGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump officials ratchet up fight over drug pricing | McConnell says Republicans could try again on ObamaCare repeal | Dems go on offense against GOP lawsuit Republicans should prepare for Nancy Pelosi to wield the gavel 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.