Alexander, Trump discussed ObamaCare fix in Nashville

Alexander, Trump discussed ObamaCare fix in Nashville
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Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderPelosi aide hopeful White House will support drug-pricing bill despite criticism Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Juan Williams: Republicans flee Trump MORE (R-Tenn.) says he spoke to President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE on Monday about a bipartisan bill aimed at stabilizing ObamaCare markets and that Trump again expressed his support for the measure.

Alexander told reporters Tuesday that Trump asked about the bill when the two appeared together at an event in Tennessee on Monday. Alexander said he told the president he would get back to him after meeting with Sens. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenators press FDA tobacco chief on status of vaping ban Retirement bill blocked in Senate amid fight over amendments Senate Democrats call on White House to abandon plan to collect DNA from migrants MORE (D-Wash.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (R-Maine) this week.

“He’s for it,” Alexander said.

Backers of the measure, known as Alexander-Murray, had planned to attach it to a government funding bill last month but had to punt after Congress opted for a slimmed-down, short-term spending measure instead.

They are now hoping to pass the bill when Congress acts on a long-term funding package in the coming weeks, but they still face opposition from House conservatives who say the measure is simply throwing more money at ObamaCare.

Alexander-Murray would fund for two years key payments to insurers that reimburse them for giving discounts to low-income ObamaCare enrollees. Trump cut off those payments last year.

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“Our goal will be to have a bipartisan proposal to lower insurance premiums that could be considered with the omnibus legislation when it's finally passed,” Alexander said.

He said it would be “unlikely” for the measure to be attached to a short-term spending bill if Congress has to buy itself more time again.

Democrats are pushing for substantial changes to the bill, arguing that the current version has lost its purpose after Republicans repealed ObamaCare’s individual mandate in the tax bill last month.

However, Democrats have not said publicly what changes they want.

Some health policy experts now warn, though, that cutting off those payments, known as cost-sharing reductions, actually helped ObamaCare through a quirk in the law that triggered increased subsidies that help people afford insurance when the other payments were cut off.

Another bill, which provides funding known as reinsurance that is aimed at lowering premiums, is expected to be included alongside Alexander-Murray if a deal can be reached. Many experts say the reinsurance funding is more important at this point.