GOP senator: ObamaCare fix could be in funding bill

GOP senator: ObamaCare fix could be in funding bill
© Getty Images

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil Cruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke MORE (R-Tenn.) expressed optimism about a bipartisan effort to stabilize ObamaCare markets, saying his bill could be included in the upcoming funding package if it had President Trump's blessing.

"I think if the president supports it, it'll be a part of the end-of-the-year package," Alexander told CNBC in an interview published Monday.

Alexander has been pushing for his bill with Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: HHS diverts funds to pay for detaining migrant children | Health officials defend transfers | Lawmakers consider easing drug company costs in opioids deal Trump health official defends funding shifts to pay for detained migrant children Judiciary Democrat calls for additional witnesses to testify on Kavanaugh MORE (D-Wash.), which would fund key ObamaCare payments for two years in exchange for added flexibility for states to change ObamaCare rules.

ADVERTISEMENT

The end-of-the-year package, with multiple measures likely to be attached to a government funding bill, could provide a vehicle.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle GOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford MORE (R-Texas), the Senate's No. 2 Republican, likewise said last week that Alexander-Murray is "likely" to be in the end-of-the-year package.

However, Democrats said last week they would block the Alexander-Murray bill if Republicans continue trying to repeal ObamaCare's individual mandate in tax-reform legislation. Democrats say that is not a trade they will go along with.

Moderate Republicans like Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPoll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it Feinstein's office says it has received threats over Kavanaugh Ford taps Obama, Clinton alum to navigate Senate hearing MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiAlaska gov, lieutenant gov come out against Kavanaugh The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Budowsky: Kavanaugh and the rights of women MORE (Alaska) have said passing Alexander-Murray could help ease their concerns about the destabilizing effects of repealing the mandate in tax reform.

However, Collins said Sunday she wants Alexander-Murray to pass before the tax bill does, which would likely not be the case if the bill waited until the end-of-the-year package.

Experts say that passing Alexander-Murray would not fully offset the effects of repealing the individual mandate, though, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates would increase premiums by 10 percent.

Trump has given mixed signals on Alexander-Murray. Alexander is trying to win more firm support from him.

"We're going to say, 'Mr. President, you asked us to do this. You don't want chaos, neither do we," Alexander said. "'Sign it, take some credit for it, and give the American people a bipartisan win. I think they'll like it.'"