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 BeraOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Cruz pitches Ocasio-Cortez on bill to make birth control available over the counter To protect our health, we must act on climate 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 AlexanderFinding a path forward to end surprise medical billing The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke Republicans make U-turn on health care MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayFinding a path forward to end surprise medical billing Trump's new labor chief alarms Democrats, unions Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Sanders mounts staunch defense of 'Medicare for All' | Biden, Sanders fight over health care heats up | House votes to repeal ObamaCare 'Cadillac Tax' | Dems want details on fetal tissue research ban 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 SchraderThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants House approves bill raising minimum wage to per hour GOP scores procedural win by securing more funding to enforce Iran sanctions 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 JayapalHouse Democrats delete tweets attacking each other, pledge to unify House approves bill raising minimum wage to per hour Progressive House Democrats describe minimum wage hike as feminist issue in Teen Vogue column 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."