President Donald Trump said Monday that Obamacare is “gone”, but encouraged both Republicans and Democrats to work together on finding a short-term fix for the law. He urged Senator Lamar Alexander, who is also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, to collaborate with Democrats on crafting such a deal, which would provide funding for cost-sharing subsidies, cut off by Trump last week.
“He called me a week ago, and he called me on Saturday, and we had a good conversation each time and he encouraged me to get a result with Sen. Murray,” Alexander said.
He added that in a phone call he had with the president, Trump told him “he wanted to make sure that in this interim period while we’re still arguing about the long-term direction of health care, people aren’t hurt.”
For the past few weeks, Alexander has been working with Democrat Patty Murray on a similar bill, but the talks hit an impasse over state flexibility. Namely, Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on whether states should be allowed to modify their own health systems under Obamacare.
Alexander is intent on crafting a deal which would receive support from both parties and said his aim is to pass a bill at the earliest in order for consumers to see premium reliefs as early as next year. However, such deal is not likely to be passed on its own, considering that Democrats want to incorporate it into a larger bill. This has caused some to worry that may not happen early enough to have an impact on 2018 rates.
Alexander also said that unless the deal includes greater flexibility for states he would not agree to it since that would mean not getting considerable support from other Republicans. For now, there is skepticism in the White House that a bipartisan Obamacare deal can be crafted.