2 Senators Reach Bipartisan Deal on ObamaCare

Alexander, Murray say they have 'basic outlines' of agreement to restore subsidies to insurers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 17, 2017 1:45 PM CDT
2 Senators Reach Bipartisan Deal on ObamaCare
In this Jan. 31, 2017, photo, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., is seen with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Two leading senators said Tuesday they have the "basic outlines" of a bipartisan agreement to resume federal payments to health insurers that President Trump has blocked. Both said in separate interviews that they still have unresolved issues but expressed optimism that a compromise was near, per the AP. The agreement would involve a two-year extension of federal payments to insurers that Trump halted last week, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Unless the money is quickly restored, insurers and others say that will result in higher premiums for people buying individual policies and in some carriers leaving unprofitable markets. Alexander agreed with his negotiating partner, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who said the two lawmakers "have the basic outlines" of an agreement but have differences to bridge.

Republicans want Congress to give states "meaningful" flexibility to ease some coverage requirements under President Obama's health care law. "The definition of meaningful," Alexander said when asked what the remaining stumbling blocks were. Murray and Alexander began talks on extending the payments months ago, when Trump was frequently threatening to stop the subsidies. Both said they were close to a deal, but GOP leaders shut the effort down in September when the Senate revisited the Republican drive to repeal Obama's law. The repeal effort failed, and the pair's talks resumed. Alexander said Trump has twice in recent days urged him to reach a deal with Murray. Alexander chairs the Senate health committee, and Murray is the top Democrat.

(More health care stories.)

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