Conservatives scoff at bipartisan health bill

The Senate’s bipartisan health bill is a “nonstarter” in the House without significant changes, conservative lawmakers said Tuesday. 

“A compromise would be subsidies to stabilize the markets but somehow injecting competition in such a way that prices and premiums could come down,” said Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. 

{mosads}”If you answer that problem, solve that problem, then we’re open to that conversation. But right now, it’s a nonstarter,” he said.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), would fund ObamaCare’s insurer subsidies for two years and give states more flexibility to change their ObamaCare programs. 

But some House conservatives argue Congress shouldn’t fund the payments because they’re a “bailout” for insurance companies.

“We haven’t cut taxes yet, we haven’t repealed ObamaCare yet… but we’re now going to bail out insurance companies? You have to be kidding me. ” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the former chairman of the caucus.

“Of course we’re opposed to that legislation,” he said. 

The subsidies, called cost-sharing reductions, reimburse insurers for giving discounted deductibles and co-pays to low-income customers. 

But conservatives, frustrated after Congress’s failure to repeal ObamaCare, have been reluctant to support a bill that would fund them. 

“You know who’s hurting under ObamaCare is the American people, not the insurance companies,” said Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee caucus.

“As long as we draft legislation that continues … bailing out or propping those guys up, I think we’re going to continue to miss the mark,” he said.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who both support the bipartisan bill, said last week they’re working to make changes to the bill to win support in the House. 

Those changes likely wouldn’t be supported by Democrats, however. 

The Trump administration canceled the subsidies earlier this month, arguing they were being made illegally. 

While the bill appears to have enough support to pass the Senate,  leaders have said the bill won’t be brought up for a vote on the floor without approval from Trump, who has said he wants to make conservative changes to the bill. 

Tags Bill Cassidy Lamar Alexander Lindsey Graham Patty Murray

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