GOP senator floats changes to bipartisan ObamaCare deal

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenators sound alarm on dangers of ransomware attacks after briefing Push to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Overnight Defense: Trump clashes with Macron at NATO summit | House impeachment report says Trump abused power | Top Dem scolds military leaders on Trump intervention in war crimes cases MORE (R-Wis.) is floating changes to a bipartisan deal to stabilize insurance markets that would pull the measure to the right.

Johnson said he’s discussed the changes with Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderRick Perry says Trump is the 'chosen one' sent 'to do great things' Impeachment will make some Senate Republicans squirm Crunch time for Congress on surprise medical bills MORE (R-Tenn.) — the Senate Health Committee chairman who brokered the deal with Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Senate panel approves Trump FDA pick | Biden downplays Dem enthusiasm around 'Medicare for All' | Trump officials unveil program for free HIV prevention drugs for uninsured Trump's FDA nominee approved by Senate panel Democrats press Trump officials over drop in ObamaCare signups amid website problems MORE (D-Wash.) — and Johnson contends they’re crucial to shoring up support for the bill in the House.

Through his spokesman, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDuncan Hunter pleads guilty after changing plea Trump campaign steps up attacks on Biden Trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, and hardly a voice of caution to be heard MORE (R-Wis.) indicated he opposed the Alexander-Murray proposal on Wednesday.

President Trump did the same, seemingly reversing course on his previous comments that the deal provided “a short-term solution so that we don’t have this very dangerous little period” for insurance companies.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that Trump opposes a bipartisan deal to help stabilize ObamaCare in its current form.
 
Johnson said he is seeking to increase the duration of short-term health plans to a 364-day limit; expand health savings accounts; not enforce the employer mandate; and waive the individual insurance mandate penalty for 2017.  

It’s unclear if Alexander would support Johnson’s changes, and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP MORE (D-N.Y.) said he strongly prefers with sticking to the deal as is.

“They came up with what we think is a balanced and fair plan, and we ought to try to get that done,” Schumer told reporters Wednesday. A Democratic aide wrote in an email that there is strong Democratic support for the agreement. 

Johnson’s changes have the support of at least one high-ranking Republican: Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump announces restart to Taliban peace talks in surprise Afghanistan visit Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Eleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid MORE (Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee caucus. He said he likes Johnson’s ideas and supports continuing to work on the deal.

But it’s hard to see the provisions garnering Democratic support.

“[Alexander and I] are both interested in getting a result,” Johnson told reporters. “He's dealing with the hurdle of the Senate, I'm trying to, some extent, deal with the hurdle in the House and maybe both of our efforts can come together and show members of Congress that this is what we're going to need to do to really alleviate the increasing premiums, which are going to hurt Americans.”

Peter Sullivan contributed to this report.