President Nixes Bipartisan Obamacare Deal Until After Tax Reform

Trump Hitchiking Mike TheilerAFPGetty Images
Mike Theiler/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Tuesday told Senate Republicans to focus on tax reform over lawmakers’ recent efforts to fund the controversial Obamacare subsidies known as the cost-sharing reduction program.

President Trump attended a policy lunch with Senate Republicans on Tuesday, where he reportedly praised Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) bipartisan deal with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). The proposed measure would fund the cost-sharing subsidies for two years in exchange for state waivers that would allow health insurers to offer more affordable healthcare plans.

Conservatives chided the Alexander-Murray healthcare plan as another effort to bail out Obamacare. The Alexander-Murray plan would leave Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates intact.

Meanwhile, Senate Finance Committee Chairman (R-UT) Orrin Hatch and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) unveiled a more conservative alternative to Alexander’s plan that would fund the Obamacare subsidies in exchange for a temporary repeal of Obamacare’s individual and employer mandate.

The Hatch plan would provide “relief” from Obamacare’s individual mandate from 2017 to 2021 and repeal the employer mandate from 2015 to 2017.

Rep. Brady said in a statement, “Millions of families in Texas and across the country still trapped in Obamacare are desperately looking for relief — not a reinforcement of today’s failed status quo.”

Trump, during the meeting with Senate leadership, told lawmakers that he does not want a stand-alone bill on Obamacare at the moment.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), a member of Senate leadership, said, “There isn’t anything else other than taxes.”

Senate Republicans have failed twice to repeal Obamacare, and Sen. Hatch’s new Obamacare stabilization proposal has complicated matters. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) argues that Republicans should focus on tax reform.

Hatch’s proposal “proves that we should be focused on tax reform right now, because obviously we haven’t gotten our act together on health care,” said Sen. Thune.

President Trump argued that Republicans should focus more on passing tax reform so that Congress can try to repeal Obamacare afterward.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) argued, “If we get taxes done, we’ll have momentum for health care.”

“He talked a lot about doing health care again,” Graham added.


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