Overnight Health Care: Trump comes out against ObamaCare deal | Alexander floats tweak to save deal | States file motion to force insurer payments

Overnight Health Care: Trump comes out against ObamaCare deal | Alexander floats tweak to save deal | States file motion to force insurer payments
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President Trump on Wednesday suggested he will oppose a bipartisan deal to help stabilize ObamaCare, reversing comments he made one day earlier.

Trump wrote on Twitter that he was "supportive" of the deal's architect, Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderDems push back on using federal funds to arm teachers Overnight Health Care: GOP plays defense over pre-existing conditions | Groups furious over new Trump immigration proposal | Public health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens MORE (R-Tenn.), as well as the Senate process, but said he would "never support bailing out" insurance companies, saying they "have made a fortune" under ObamaCare.

Trump stopped short of saying he would veto the measure, however.

Speaking to reporters later Wednesday, Trump said "if something can happen, that's fine, but I won't do anything to enrich the insurance companies."

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The president has sent a series of mixed signals on the legislation drafted by Alexander and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDems push back on using federal funds to arm teachers Overnight Health Care: GOP plays defense over pre-existing conditions | Groups furious over new Trump immigration proposal | Public health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Malnutrition Awareness Week spotlights the importance of national nutrition programs MORE (D-Wash.), the ranking member on the Health Committee.

The measure would fund insurer subsidies known as cost-sharing reduction payments for two years while allowing states greater flexibility to waive the health-care law's rules.

Trump announced last week he would cut off the payments, a move experts said would cause insurance premiums to skyrocket.

But the president on Tuesday signaled he may support the proposal, calling it "a short-term solution so that we don't have this very dangerous little period" for insurance companies. Later in the evening, he appeared to backtrack on those comments.

Read more here.

 

Back to the drawing board... Alexander floats tweak to ObamaCare fix after Trump tweet 

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is trying to keep alive his deal with Democrats on ObamaCare by floating changes to clarify language. 

President Trump tweeted a heavy blow to the deal on Wednesday morning by saying he cannot support "bailing out" insurance companies, a reference to payments to insurers that the deal would continue to help fund discounts for consumers.

Alexander's proposed change is to strengthen language in the bill making sure that insurance companies lower their premiums or pass rebates on to consumers and don't just keep the payments, known as cost-sharing reductions, for themselves. 

"He and I absolutely agree that CSRs should benefit consumers and not insurance companies," Alexander tweeted about Trump, referencing the payments.

"The Alexander-Murray agreement has strong language to do that, and I will work with the president to see if we can make it even stronger," he added.

Read more here.

 

Trump also called Alexander about the bill Wednesday

"He called me to say that, number one, he wanted to be encouraging about the bipartisan agreement that Sen. [Patty] Murray and I announced yesterday," Alexander said at an Axios event Wednesday. 

"Number two, he intends to review it carefully to see if he wants to add anything to it." 

Read more here.

 

Another senator floats his own fix

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSessions calls on former colleagues to send drone legislation to Trump's desk Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow MORE (R-Wis.) is floating changes to a bipartisan deal to stabilize insurance markets that would pull the measure to the right.

Johnson said he's discussed the changes with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) -- the Senate Health Committee chairman who brokered the deal with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) -- and Johnson contends they're crucial to shoring up support for the bill in the House.

Johnson said he is seeking to increase the duration of short-term health plans to a 364-day limit; expand health savings accounts; not enforce the employer mandate; and waive the individual insurance mandate penalty for 2017.

It's unclear if Alexander would support Johnson's changes.

Read more here.

 

Ryan opposes ObamaCare fix 

A spokesman for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow the Trump tax law passed: Dealing with a health care hangover Dems fight to protect Mueller amid Rosenstein rumors Jordan wants Rosenstein to testify before House Judiciary Committee MORE (R-Wis.) on Wednesday indicated Ryan also won't support a bipartisan deal to stabilize the ObamaCare insurance markets as opposition to the proposal mounts.

"The speaker does not see anything that changes his view that the Senate should keep its focus on repeal and replace of Obamacare," Doug Andres wrote in an emailed statement.

Read more here.

 

Schumer: Trump doesn't understand ObamaCare payments deal 

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBredesen says he won't back Schumer for Senate Dem leader Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV MORE (D-N.Y.) ripped President Trump's comments opposing a bipartisan deal to extend key ObamaCare payments to insurers, arguing he doesn't understand the agreement.

"Frankly the president doesn't know what he's talking about in the compromise. ... The president ought to know what he's talking about when he tweets about bills. Because on this one he had no understanding of what it's about," Schumer said from the Senate floor. 

He added, "This president keeps zigging and zagging so it's impossible to govern." 

Read more here.

 

States file emergency motion to force ObamaCare insurer payments

Multiple states have filed an emergency motion to force the Trump administration to continue making ObamaCare subsidy payments to insurers.

Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., signed onto the motion for a temporary restraining order filed Tuesday in federal court in California, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D).

President Trump last week announced he would not continue making the payments, which are required under the health-care law and help low-income people afford co-pays and deductibles.

The emergency motion would ensure the payments continue.

 

"These payments are vital to thousands of New Yorkers and millions of Americans who rely on them to afford their health care," Schneiderman said in a statement. "We're moving to block these dangerous cuts before they do any more harm."

Read more here.

 

What we're reading 

Federal judge blasts Trump administration attempts to deny abortion for pregnant, undocumented teen (The Washington Post)

Trump's attack on insurer 'gravy train' could actually help a lot of consumers (The New York Times

ObamaCare premiums were stabilizing. Then Trump happened. (Vox)

 

State by state 

Hawaii is still falling short in its inspections of health care facilities (civilbeat.org)

Two insurers praising premiums in N.J. health insurance marketplace (Associated Press)

Two plead guilty in Jacksonville Medicaid fraud case (Florida Times Union)

 

From The Hill's opinion pages

Twitter's suppression of pro-life speech must stop, by Lila Rose, president and founder of Live Action

Trump's health care storm could end with a rainbow, Stephen K. Klasko, president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health