Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) acknowledged Monday that Congress’s next steps on healthcare are unclear after Republicans failed to repeal ObamaCare.
“Obviously we had a setback on the effort to make dramatic changes on ObamaCare. The way forward now is somewhat murky,” the Senate GOP leader said at a Chamber of Commerce event in Kentucky with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
A GOP push to pass a “skinny repeal” of ObamaCare failed in a dramatic 49-51 vote before the August recess. A broader repeal proposal and a measure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act simultaneously also failed to get enough votes to pass in the Senate.
McConnell added that lawmakers were “going to see” what negotiations between Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the top two members of the Senate’s healthcare committee, aimed at stabilizing the individual health insurance market could produce.
“We have … collapsing individual insurance markets around the country. Requests to continue to subsidize the insurance companies. It’s a pretty controversial subject to subsidize insurance companies without any reforms,” the GOP senator said.
He added that Democrats “have been pretty uninterested in any reforms,” but the two parties will need to try to negotiate when they get back to Washington next month.
“So when we get back after Labor Day we’ll have to sit down and talk to them and see … what the way forward might be,” he said.
Alexander and Murray are expected to hold a series of bipartisan Health Committee hearings next month.
Their goal is to craft an insurance stabilization bill by mid-September that is expected to include money for ObamaCare’s cost-sharing reduction payments, which President Trump has threatened to cut off.
McConnell has previously acknowledged that the next steps on healthcare are unclear after Republicans campaigned for years on repealing and replacing the Obama-era law.
“If the Democrats are willing to support some real reforms, rather than just an insurance company bailout, I would be willing to take a look at it,” McConnell told reporters earlier this month ahead of the annual Fancy Farm Picnic.