- The bipartisan Alexander-Murray Obamacare stabilization bill debuted on Tuesday.
- The bill’s authors announced 24 co-sponsors in the Senate, 12 in each party.
- GOP leadership, especially President Donald Trump, still needs to get on board for it to pass.
The push to stabilize the Obamacare individual insurance exchanges is getting some key support in the Senate, but there is one major hurdle the bill must jump in order to pass.
On Tuesday, Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray debuted their bipartisan stabilization package for the exchanges, which included both funding to support the marketplace and provisions to allow states some flexibility to customize their healthcare markets.
The bill drew praise from many Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, for shoring up the market and protecting consumers. More importantly, it also drew support from Republican members.
In fact, Alexander announced that 11 other GOP senators will co-sponsor the legislation. They are:
- Mike Rounds (SD)
- Lindsey Graham (SC)
- John McCain (AZ)
- Bill Cassidy (LA)
- Susan Collins (ME)
- Joni Ernst (IA)
- Lisa Murkowski (AL)
- Charles Grassley (IA)
- Johnny Isakson (GA)
- Richard Burr (NC)
- Bob Corker (TN)
The mix includes moderates who were against the attempts by Republicans this past summer to repeal and replace Obamacare (Murkowski, McCain, Collins), the authors of the last attempt at repeal (Graham, Cassidy), and both senators from Iowa — a state that had its own waiver to stabilize the Obamacare marketplace denied by the Trump administration.
Given the number of cosponsors, if all of the Democrats support the proposal and the bill is brought to the floor, it would have a filibuster-proof majority.
There is one issue, however. The bill may never see the floor.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been mum on the Alexander-Murray plans and other Republican leaders, including Senate Finance Chair Orrin Hatch and House Speaker Paul Ryan, came out against the bill after its release.
Schumer told reporters that all 48 Democratic members would vote for the bill and urged McConnell to put the bill on the floor.
“Now that a number of Republican Senators have come forward to support this sensible, bipartisan package, I strongly urge Leader McConnell to put it on the floor without delay,” Schumer said. “If he does, it is virtually certain that it would pass.”
Perhaps, most importantly, however, would be support from President Donald Trump. The president has sent incredibly mixed signals on the bill over the past two days. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that as it stands right now Trump is not on board with the proposal.
What it would take for Trump to get on board is unclear, but Alexander told reporters that Trump called him on Wednesday night to encourage him to keep working on the bill.
“So, I have great respect, as you know, for both of the senators that you mentioned and if they can come up with a short term solution,” Trump said Thursday during a White House meeting with Ricardo Rosselló, the governor of Puerto Rico. “What I did say though is, I don’t want the insurance companies making any more money… than they have to.”
If Trump comes out in support of the Alexander-Murray bill, it would go a long way in getting it passed.