Bipartisan Senate keeps Obamacare subsidies coming for now

A bipartisan bill in the Senate, introduced Tuesday, would maintain Obamacare subsidies to insurers for the next two years. President Trump had declared that he was ending the subsidies last week.
By Rick Docksai | Oct 18, 2017
Hours after President Trump declared Obamacare "virtually dead," a group of Senate Republicans and Democrats announced a new bill Tuesday that would continue the law's subsidies to health insurers for the next two years. The deal is still undergoing finalization and still has to get a vote, but it has the tacit support of President Trump, who said that he will keep working with lawmakers on replacing Obamacare in the meantime.

"It will get us over the intermediate hump," Trump said when asked about the deal during a joint news conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Trump had announced an immediate end to the subsidies last week and received criticism even from some Republicans, who argued that the subsidies are necessary to dissuade insurers from drastically raising consumers' premiums in the year ahead. The subsidies reimburse insurers for offering fuel coverage at marked-down rates to lower-income customers.

The bill, which Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) coauthored with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would stave off the end of subsidy payouts until 2019. Alexander said that the Senate will have time after that to debate "where we go long-term on health care."

 

The deal also provides $100 million to fund promotional outreach to the public to sign up for Obamacare.
Alexander secured some concessions from Democrats, however: The deal broadens the Department of Health and Human Services' authority to accept more states' requests for waivers of certain Obamacare provisions. In addition, insurers would be permitted to offer plans with higher deductibles and out-of-pocket costs than the law currently allows.

Alexander and Murray said that they plan to present a finished draft of the bill to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by Friday.

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