Moderate Dems revive effort to stabilize ObamaCare markets

Moderate Dems revive effort to stabilize ObamaCare markets
© Stefani Reynolds

A group of moderate House Democrats will make a push this year to stabilize ObamaCare's markets, reviving an effort that fell to partisan bickering in 2017. 

The New Democrat Coalition, a caucus of 101 centrists, says the House should "immediately" work with Republicans to bring down ObamaCare premiums and reverse the Trump administration's "sabotage" of the health care law.

"The Republicans, certainly on the Senate side, recognize they have to do something on health care," said Rep. Ami BeraAmerish (Ami) Babulal BeraModerate Dems revive effort to stabilize ObamaCare markets The Hill's Morning Report — Groundhog Day: Negotiations implode as shutdown reaches 20 days Trump tells FEMA not to send more money to California for forest fires MORE (D-Calif.), a member of the coalition's Affordable and Accessible Healthcare Task Force, noting that Democrats won the House majority on the issue of health care.

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"It is a personal issue to every American. If [Republicans] weren't paying attention to the 2018 elections, hopefully they are now." 

The task force wants to create a national reinsurance program to reduce premiums by helping insurance companies pay claims for high-cost patients. 

It also wants to increase premium assistance and bring back insurer subsidies the Trump administration canceled in 2017. 

A bill introduced in 2017 by Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe next step for justice reform: Ending the ban on federal Pell Grants for eligible students behind bars Senate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks Overnight Health Care: Survey finds 1 in 10 ration medicines to lower costs | Senate Dems call for hearing on Trump abortion rule | Trump health chief backs needle exchanges | Outgoing FDA chief keeps heat on e-cig maker MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayWhite House proposes limits on student loan borrowing as part of higher education reforms Jury orders Johnson & Johnson to pay M to woman who claimed baby powder gave her cancer Overnight Health Care - Presented by Kidney Care Partners - FDA chief Scott Gottlieb resigns | House Dems to take up drug pricing bills next week | Planned Parenthood, doctors group sue over Trump abortion rule MORE (D-Wash.) would have funded a reinsurance program and three years of the subsidies for insurers. 

But talks between Democrats and Republicans were derailed over a disagreement about the bill's treatment of abortion coverage. 

"I feel that we were this close to getting something across the finish line," said Rep. Kurt SchraderWalter (Kurt) Kurt SchraderDon't enact a law that diminishes the incentive for generic companies to challenge patents Overnight Health Care: Medicare for all push worries centrist Dems | New call to fix ObamaCare markets | House panel plans hearing on lowering health costs | CDC worries HIV prevention has 'stalled' House GOP secures last-minute change to gun bill MORE (D-Ore.), a member of the task force.

"Now that the ideas have been socialized [and] we know where the problems may be, we can actually go ahead and get this done."

The task force laid out its vision for health care goals for the new Congress on the same day the party's liberal wing introduced "Medicare for all" legislation. 

But it said its path is something that can be accomplished now. "Medicare for all," introduced by Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalOn The Money: Trump issues emergency order grounding Boeing 737 Max jets | Senate talks over emergency resolution collapse | Progressives seek defense freeze in budget talks Progressives seek defense freeze in budget talks House Dems reintroduce the Dream Act MORE (D-Wash.), won't pass with Republicans in control of the Senate and White House. 

"This is something that can be done this session, knowing that we can pass bills in the Democratic House, but we have to contend with a Republican Senate and with a Republican president," said Rep. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.)

Still, moderate Democrats are wary of revamping the entire health care system. 

"I don't think we want to exclude any ideas but want to see the details," Bera said. 

"We should also understand the policy behind it: what it costs, how would you actually implement something like that."