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Blue Dog Dems Back Bipartisan Health Bill

11/02/2017

The Hill

A group of centrist Democrats on Thursday endorsed the Senate's bipartisan plan to shore up ObamaCare's insurance markets. 

The Blue Dog Coalition, a group of 18 centrist Democrats, hopes its support could build momentum to create a similar bill in the House. 

"This endorsement is a call to action in the House to develop a bill that mirrors the Alexander-Murray health care legislation and bring it to the floor for full consideration,” said Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), Blue Dog co-chair for policy. 

“The American people are counting on us to move quickly to limit the negative effects of the President’s executive order to cut funding for cost sharing reduction payments. They deserve peace of mind when it comes to health insurance costs and access to good health care." 

The Senate bill, sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), would fund ObamaCare's insurer payments, called cost sharing reduction payments, for two years in an effort to stabilize the markets. 

It would also provide states more flexibility to change the ObamaCare requirements. 

"With all the uncertainty that this administration has created this year, particularly with the recent announcement to end cost sharing reduction payments, we have to work together in Congress to bring much needed stability back to the marketplace for individuals and families across this country," said Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), a member of the coalition.

"We’re as ready as ever on this side of the Capitol, and look forward to continue that bipartisan effort.”

But the bill still faces an uphill battle to becoming law. While it appears to have the support needed to pass the upper chamber, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he won't call it for a vote without approval from President Trump. 

Trump has called the bill a bailout for insurance companies and is pushing for more conservative changes. 

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) came out against the bill earlier this month. 

"The speaker does not see anything that changes his view that the Senate should keep its focus on repeal and replace of Obamacare," his spokesman said in a statement. 

The bill thus appears to be at a standstill. Many observers think its only real chance is to be included in a larger deal on spending in December. 


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