A bipartisan Senate deal that could bolster Obamacare for two years by reviving federal subsidies for health insurers has been dismissed by Republicans.
The deal, which had been worked out by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington, would restore $106 million in funding for a federal program that helps people enrolled in insurance plans.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) speaks to the media about a possible bipartisan agreement with Democrats to fund key Affordable Care Act insurance subsidies, on Capitol Hill, October 17, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)
Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee in the House, rejected the deal on Tuesday, saying, “Anything propping [Obamacare] up is only saving what Republicans promised to dismantle.”
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not indicate that he would bring the bill to the floor, and while Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) offered some praise, no Senate conservative showed strong public support for the compromise.
Senate Democrats, however, hailed the deal, calling on GOP leaders to quickly bring it to the floor.
They also praised “anti-sabotage” measures they said they had incorporated into the deal that would prevent President Donald Trump from taking Obamacare apart.
“The president had been sabotaging [Obamacare] and the agreement would undo much of that sabotage,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (NY). “So overall we are very pleased with this agreement.”
The plan could protect Obamacare at least until the 2020 presidential campaign begins to heat up.
“This takes care of the next two years. After that, we can have a full-fledged debate on where we go long-term on healthcare,” Alexander said of the deal.
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) speaks with reporters following the weekly Senate Democratic policy luncheon at the US Capitol, September 6, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)
Murray and Alexander have been working on and off on the legislation for months. Murray is the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Alexander is the chairman of the committee.
Trump’s administration announced the end of the payments last week.
“As far as the subsidies are concerned, I don’t want to make the insurance companies rich,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “They’re making a fortune by getting that kind of money.”
Health insurance experts have warned the move would financially harm middle-class customers, saying this decision was being made at the worst possible time.