Alexander: Trump called him on ObamaCare fix bill

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderIt's time for Republicans to lead (again) on climate WANTED: A Republican with courage Overnight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House passes drug pricing bills amid ObamaCare row | Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law | Ocasio-Cortez confronts CEO over K drug price tag MORE (R-Tenn.) said President Trump called him Wednesday morning expressing optimism about the bipartisan health plan. 

"He called me to say that, number one, he wanted to be encouraging about the bipartisan agreement that Sen. [Patty] Murray and I announced yesterday," Alexander said at an Axios event Wednesday. 

"Number two, he intends to review it carefully to see if he wants to add anything to it." 

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Still, nearly simultaneously, Trump doubled down on his mixed signals by tweeting that although he respects Alexander, he can not support "bailing out" insurance companies that he says have made a "fortune" on ObamaCare.

Alexander and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House passes drug pricing bills amid ObamaCare row | Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law | Ocasio-Cortez confronts CEO over K drug price tag Bipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills Work on surprise medical bills goes into overdrive MORE (D-Wash.), ranking member on the Health Committee, announced Tuesday afternoon that they'd reached a deal to stabilize the insurance markets by funding ObamaCare's insurer payments for two years. 

It would also change rules that insurers must meet under the health-care law as long as consumers are still offered “comparable” affordability.

But Trump has given mixed signals on whether he would support the bill if it gets to his desk. 

His administration announced last week it would cancel the insurer payments, which are intended to help insurers provide coverage to low-income consumers, because they were being made illegally. 

Trump encouraged Alexander to work with Democrats on a deal, Alexander said. 

But Trump described the insurer payments as a bailout during a speech Tuesday night. 

"I'm pleased that Democrats have finally responded to my call for them to take responsibility for their ObamaCare disaster and work with Republicans to provide much needed relief to the American people," Trump said.

"While I commend the bipartisan work being done by Sens. Alexander and Murray — and I do commend it — I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the ObamaCare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies," he added.

Alexander indicated that Trump views the deal as a stopgap while Republicans work toward repealing and replacing ObamaCare. 

Republicans plan to turn back toward health care in 2018 after tax reform with a plan authored by Sens. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House passes drug pricing bills amid ObamaCare row | Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law | Ocasio-Cortez confronts CEO over K drug price tag Bipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills Work on surprise medical bills goes into overdrive MORE (R-La.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTensions swirl around Iran as administration to brief Congress Press: Justin Amash breaks ranks with party Overnight Defense: Iran tensions swirl as officials prepare to brief Congress | Trump threatens war would be 'end of Iran' | Graham tells Trump to 'stand firm' | Budget talks begin MORE (R-S.C.).

Alexander said he would likely support that plan, which would convert ObamaCare funding into block grants to the states. 
But states that expanded Medicaid would get cuts, while states that didn't would likely get more funding. 

"I think Bill Cassidy did a good job with his bill," Alexander said.