Alexander: Trump called him on ObamaCare fix bill

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderThe Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality 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." 


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 MurrayBiden's pre-K plan is a bipartisan opportunity to serve the nation's children Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap 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 CassidyBill CassidyUtah county GOP censures Romney over Trump impeachment vote Amazon blocks 10B listings in crackdown on counterfeits Cassidy on pipeline cyberattack: Congress must equip businesses with defenses against incursions MORE (R-La.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham warns about trying to 'drive' Trump from GOP: 'Half the people will leave' Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Lindsey Graham: 'In this fight it is clear — Israel is the good guy and Hamas is the bad' 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.