Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) expressed optimism about a bipartisan effort to stabilize ObamaCare markets, saying his bill could be included in the upcoming funding package if it had President Trump’s blessing.
“I think if the president supports it, it’ll be a part of the end-of-the-year package,” Alexander told CNBC in an interview published Monday.
Alexander has been pushing for his bill with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), which would fund key ObamaCare payments for two years in exchange for added flexibility for states to change ObamaCare rules.
The end-of-the-year package, with multiple measures likely to be attached to a government funding bill, could provide a vehicle.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, likewise said last week that Alexander-Murray is “likely” to be in the end-of-the-year package.
However, Democrats said last week they would block the Alexander-Murray bill if Republicans continue trying to repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate in tax-reform legislation. Democrats say that is not a trade they will go along with.
Moderate Republicans like Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski(Alaska) have said passing Alexander-Murray could help ease their concerns about the destabilizing effects of repealing the mandate in tax reform.
However, Collins said Sunday she wants Alexander-Murray to pass before the tax bill does, which would likely not be the case if the bill waited until the end-of-the-year package.
Experts say that passing Alexander-Murray would not fully offset the effects of repealing the individual mandate, though, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates would increase premiums by 10 percent.
Trump has given mixed signals on Alexander-Murray. Alexander is trying to win more firm support from him.
“We’re going to say, ‘Mr. President, you asked us to do this. You don’t want chaos, neither do we,” Alexander said. “‘Sign it, take some credit for it, and give the American people a bipartisan win. I think they’ll like it.'”