President Trump & Conservatives Pan Sen. Alexander’s Bipartisan Obamacare Bailout Deal

Lamar Alexander Bailout Andrew HarnikAssociated Press
Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

President Donald Trump, conservatives, and even Speaker Paul Ryan panned Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) bipartisan Obamacare bailout deal with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

Senate Health, Education, Labor, Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) struck a deal with ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA) to bail out Obamacare.

Sens. Alexander and Murray said that they struck a deal to fund the Obamacare cost-sharing reduction program in exchange for state waivers that will allow states to have more flexibility to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The deal will allegedly fund Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction program, which President Trump ended last week for two years. In exchange, Republicans will get some state waivers to allow health insurers to offer plans with “comparable affordability” to Obamacare plans.

“Sen. Murray and I have an agreement,” Sen. Alexander said. “We’re going to round up co-sponsors as best we can.”

President Trump tweeted on Wednesday that although he is generally supportive of Alexander’s efforts, he cannot support a bill that will bail out insurance companies that have made millions through Obamacare. Trump said, “I am supportive of Lamar as a person & also of the process, but I can never support bailing out ins co’s who have made a fortune w/ O’Care.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement regarding the White House’s decision to end the Obamacare subsidies:

Based on guidance from the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services has concluded that there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under Obamacare. In light of this analysis, the Government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments. The United States House of Representatives sued the previous administration in Federal court for making these payments without such an appropriation, and the court agreed that the payments were not lawful.  The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system.  Congress needs to repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare law and provide real relief to the American people.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) said that Republicans should not lose sight of repealing Obamacare while trying to stabilize the Obamacare individual market. Meadows said in a statement:

At this point in time, the central purpose of our discussions on healthcare should be aimed at one goal: lowering premiums for Americans. There are elements in the Alexander-Murray plan that we can build on, but much more work needs to be done. I applaud Senators Alexander and Murray for their hard work to address this issue and their agreement is a good start and a welcome expansion from earlier discussions. Expanding health savings accounts, providing for limited duration plans, and giving states more flexibility on waivers are all positive changes to the current system. I look forward to getting to work with my colleagues, both in the House and in the Senate, on how we can move forward and improve healthcare costs for the American people.

Most importantly, it bears repeating: Republicans cannot allow short term solutions to become a distraction to repealing and replacing Obamacare—something we’ve promised to do for seven years.

Speaker Paul Ryan said that he would not support a bill that would bail out Obamacare. Speaker Ryan spokesman Doug Andres said, “The speaker does not see anything that changes his view that the Senate should keep its focus on repeal and replace of Obamacare.”

Conservatives such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Daniel Horowitz have argued that the cost-sharing reduction payment program amounts to a bailout fund for health insurance companies.

The Club for Growth stated that it was “pleased to see President Trump standing firm and refusing to bailout insurance companies who’ve profited tremendously under Obamacare and at the American people’s expense.”

President Trump recently tweeted, “Obamacare is a broken mess. Piece by piece we will now begin the process of giving America the great HealthCare it deserves!”


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