Alexander, Trump discussed ObamaCare fix in Nashville

Alexander, Trump discussed ObamaCare fix in Nashville
© Getty Images

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderMcConnell blocks House bill to reopen government for second time Senators restart shutdown talks — and quickly hit roadblocks GOP senators propose bill to pay 'excepted' workers during shutdown MORE (R-Tenn.) says he spoke to President TrumpDonald John TrumpDACA recipient claims Trump is holding ‘immigrant youth hostage’ amid quest for wall Lady Gaga blasts Pence as ‘worst representation of what it means to be Christian’ We have a long history of disrespecting Native Americans and denying their humanity 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 MurraySen. Murray says Washington behavior reminds her of former preschool students Senate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Overnight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal MORE (D-Wash.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump pitches new plan to reopen government amid Dem pushback The Memo: Concern over shutdown grows in Trump World Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal 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.

ADVERTISEMENT
“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.