Alexander to try again on bipartisan Obamacare fix

With plans for a U.S. Senate vote on the latest Republican proposal to repeal Obamacare abandoned, Sen. Lamar Alexander said today he will restart efforts to come  up with a short-term bill that can win bipartisan support.

Here’s the press release:

WASHINGTON, September 26 – Senate health committee chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on the Senate’s health care work:

“I will consult with Senator Murray and with other senators, both Republicans and Democrats, to see if senators can find consensus on a limited bipartisan plan that could be enacted into law to help lower premiums and make insurance available to the 18 million Americans in the individual market in 2018 and 2019.

“I would have voted for the Graham-Cassidy proposal because it meant more money and more state decision-making for Tennessee, and would have helped control the federal debt. But Graham-Cassidy primarily would have affected 2020 and beyond. I’m still concerned about the next two years and Congress has an opportunity to slow down premium increases in 2018, begin to lower them in 2019, and do our best to make sure there are no counties where people have zero options to buy health insurance.

Note: Alexander had halted his efforts toward a bipartisan bill after the vote was scheduled.

Excerpt from The Hill’s report on calling off a vote on latest effort:

The last-ditch bill sponsored by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) would dismantle ObamaCare’s insurance subsidy program and Medicaid expansion and convert their funding into block grants to states.

“We don’t have the votes,” Cassidy acknowledged after meeting with his colleagues on Tuesday for more than an hour.

“We made the decision since we don’t have the votes, we’re going to postpone it,” he added, expressing disappointment.

Graham said the health care debate will resume after Congress tries to move a tax reform package and expressed confidence his bill will eventually muster 50 votes.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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