Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act appear to be dead – at least for now. But two U.S. senators may soon unveil a bipartisan proposal to make modest healthcare fixes.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the committee’s ranking member, are back at work negotiating a bipartisan plan, according to reports in The Hill, Politico and elsewhere.
Alexander told Politico on Sept. 29 that there might be a piece of legislation ready for Senate leaders by the end of this week.
The deal reportedly would safeguard Obamacare exchange subsidies, which President Donald Trump’s administration has threatened to pull, while giving states more leeway when it comes to the ACA’s requirements. States could potentially have more freedom to offer cheaper, less generous plans on the insurance exchanges.
Whether the proposal will gain traction is anyone’s guess, though Trump has started to show a willingness to sometimes cut deals with Democrats.
Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act was a top priority for Trump and the Republican Congress. But as Trump famously (or infamously) said last February as the debate heated up, “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” With an end-of-September deadline looming, Republicans made a last push in September with the Graham-Cassidy bill, but the bill was pulled Sept. 26.
Efforts to repeal and replace received another blow on Sept. 29 when Tom Price resigned from his post as U.S. health and human services secretary. Price – a longtime ACA critic when he was a U.S. representative from Georgia – had been a point person for rolling back executive branch efforts to promote Obamacare.