Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) over the weekend signaled he would bring the Alexander-Murray bipartisan health legislation to a floor vote if President Trump wants him to do so. Trump officials, however, said the bill needs to be expanded to axe the individual and employer health insurance mandates and offer less comprehensive policies for lower-income people through association health plans (AHPs).
On CCN’s “State of the Union,” McConnell said: “If there’s a need for some kind of interim step here to stabilize the market, we need a bill the president will actually sign. And I’m not certain yet what the president is looking for here, but I will be happy to bring a bill to the floor if I know President Trump would sign it,” the Republican said. He added of Trump: “I think he hasn’t made a final decision.”
On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Budget Director Mick Mulvaney offered the president’s viewpoint:
“And I think the criticisms you’ve heard this week are like, ‘Look, I’m okay with doing a deal.’ This is the president now. ‘But I’m not getting enough for the folks who are getting hurt. So give me more by way of associated health plans. Give me more of the things that we know we can do for folks back home to actually help them.'”
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the plan, with the support of 60 senators, should be brought up immediately. “We should pass it and pass it now,” Schumer said.
With 12 Republican co-sponsors on the bill, it appears a sure thing to get the 60 votes necessary to pass as is, but the president, while initially supporting the legislation, later sent mixed signals, including disapproval. It now appears that he wants to sweeten the pot.
As it stands, the Alexander-Murray bill would extend cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurance companies for two years and would allow anyone to buy lower-priced, lower-featured catastrophic health insurance plans, now restricted to those under 30 and those who can show an economic hardship. Other provisions would restore funding for promotion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces and extend the open enrollment period by 30 days, which is now set to begin Nov. 1 and end Dec. 15.