Bipartisan senators discuss path forward on ObamaCare fix

Bipartisan senators discuss path forward on ObamaCare fix
© Greg Nash

Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderCongress needs to wake up to nuclear security threat Blackburn keeps Tennessee seat in GOP hands  Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Judge urges insurers to drop challenge over non-ObamaCare plans | Azar vows to push ahead with drug pricing proposal | No increase for ObamaCare outreach budget MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySchumer reelected as Senate Democratic Leader Senate GOP readies for leadership reshuffle Dem senators want hearing on funding for detained migrant children MORE (D-Wash.) met Wednesday to discuss the path forward for their bipartisan legislation aimed at stabilizing ObamaCare, aides in both parties said.

The legislation’s future has been thrown into question after it was punted at the end of last month. Alexander is now pushing for the legislation to be included in a government funding package when a long-term deal on that measure is reached.

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Murray and other Democrats, though, want significant changes to the bill, saying that it needs to be redone now that Republicans have destabilized health insurance markets by repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate in the tax-reform bill last month.

Democrats have not yet said what changes they are looking for.

But Alexander told reporters on Wednesday that the bill will remain “fundamentally what was agreed to.”

“It's fundamentally what was agreed to,” he said. “It's what we recommended, plus the Collins-Nelson risk pool."

Alexander was referring to a companion bill from Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDems vow swift action on gun reform next year Collins reiterates call for legislation to protect Mueller investigation GOP nerves on edge after Sinema takes lead over McSally MORE (R-Maine) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonMeet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time Election Countdown: Hyde-Smith's 'public hanging' joke shakes up Mississippi runoff | New lawsuits in Florida | Trump wants Florida election official fired | Mia Love sues to stop Utah vote count | Republican MacArthur loses NJ House race Jeb Bush to Bill Nelson: 'Stop the lawsuits' and 'don’t tarnish your years of service' MORE (D-Fla.) that provides funding known as reinsurance aimed at bringing down premiums.

Collins is a key player on the issue, since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRand Paul blocking Trump counterterrorism nominee On The Money: Trump, Senate leaders to huddle on border wall funding | Fed bank regulator walks tightrope on Dodd-Frank | Koch-backed groups blast incentives for corporations after Amazon deal Congress is going to make marijuana moves MORE (R-Ky.) gave her a commitment to support passage of the two ObamaCare fixes in exchange for her vote for tax reform. Consideration of the two bills was originally supposed to occur before the end of 2017, but has now been put off.

The Alexander-Murray bill funds key payments to insurers known as cost-sharing reductions that President TrumpDonald John TrumpMeet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time Avenatti denies domestic violence allegations: 'I have never struck a woman' Trump names handbag designer as ambassador to South Africa MORE cancelled last year. But Democrats say that measure needs to be rethought now that many experts say cancelling the payments has actually helped the law through a quirk that led to increased subsidies that help people afford coverage.