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 BeraCruz pitches Ocasio-Cortez on bill to make birth control available over the counter 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 AlexanderTaylor Swift thanks Cory Booker for signing Equality Act petition Taylor Swift thanks Cory Booker for signing Equality Act petition Senate health panel to move forward on package to lower health costs next week MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayCruz, Ocasio-Cortez efforts on birth control access face major obstacles It's time to let Medicare to negotiate drug prices Ocasio-Cortez shares verse by the 'Congressional Destiny's Child' in promotion of new birth control legislation 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 SchraderLiberals rip Democratic leaders for writing drug pricing bill in secret Liberals rip Democratic leaders for writing drug pricing bill in secret Dems walk Trump trade tightrope 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 JayapalCentrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage push Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage push Overnight Health Care: Democratic bill would require insurance to cover OTC birth control | House Dems vote to overturn ban on fetal tissue research | New rule aims to expand health choices for small businesses 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."