GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix

GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix
© Getty Images

Top Republican negotiators on a bill to stabilize ObamaCare markets met on Thursday to discuss a way to bridge the gap between House and Senate measures.

GOP Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Congress must move forward on measure dealing with fentanyl GOP advances rules change to speed up confirmation of Trump nominees MORE (Tenn.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Congress must step up to protect Medicare home health care MORE (Maine) met with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Former Ryan aide moves to K street Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Lawmakers pay tribute to John Dingell's legacy on health care | White House denies officials are sabotaging ObamaCare | FDA wants meeting with Juul, Altria execs on youth vaping MORE (R-Ore.) to discuss an effort to get ObamaCare stability measures included in a coming long-term government funding bill due in March, known as an omnibus.

“We actually think we're very close,” Alexander told reporters. “We hope it will be part of the omnibus.”  

“We're comparing notes on the bills,” he added.

Walden discussed a bill from Rep. Ryan CostelloRyan Anthony CostellloOvernight Energy: Park Service closing Joshua Tree after shutdown damage | Dems deliver trash from parks to White House | Dems offer bills to block offshore drilling | Oil lobby worries about Trump trade fight Ex-GOP Rep. Ryan Costello joins group pushing carbon tax Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch MORE (R-Pa.) which seeks to stabilize markets and bring down premiums by providing funding known as reinsurance.

ADVERTISEMENT

That measure is similar to a bill backed by Collins in the Senate, but there are some differences that need to be bridged. For example, the Costello bill provides more funding: $10 billion per year compared to $5 billion per year in Collins’s bill.

Alexander called Costello’s measure a “very promising proposal.”

“We were very impressed with the work that Rep. Costello has done and hope that it could be a part of what the House decides to do,” Alexander said.

House Republicans were a major impediment to passing the stabilization bills in December, when Collins secured a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats The national emergency will haunt Republicans come election season Trump: McConnell should keep Senate in session until nominees are approved MORE (R-Ky.) to support them in exchange for her vote for tax reform.

But GOP lawmakers have been warming to the proposal recently, particularly the reinsurance funding.

Some conservatives still oppose that idea as a “bailout” for ObamaCare.

Another obstacle is abortion politics. Republicans are adamant that the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funding for abortions, be included in the stabilization measures, but Democrats are against anything they view as an expansion of the restrictions.

“Lowering premiums for hardworking Americans remains one of Chairman Walden’s top priorities and he appreciates Rep. Costello, Senator Alexander, and Senator Collins’ continued work on these issues,” an Energy and Commerce Committee spokesman said.