WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced Tuesday he and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., have reached an agreement to fix the national health care system, causing West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin to share enthusiasm over the move.
“I am thrilled that Senator Alexander and Senator Murray reached a bipartisan deal to begin fixing the ACA,” he said in a press release.
The deal includes two years of funding cost-sharing reduction subsidies, $106 million in outreach enrollment funding through 2019, allowing people over 30 years old to purchase “copper plans,” which do not fit the ordinance for basic coverage, and increased flexibility to allow states to secure waivers for provisions of the health care law.
Manchin said after multiple attempts by Republicans this year to repeal former President Barack Obama’s health care law, this is an approach to stabilize the system.
“These important steps will help reduce healthcare costs for West Virginia families, and this agreement shows what is possible when we put people before politics,” he said.
“I am hopeful we can get this bipartisan fix over the finish line, and I am also hopeful we will follow this approach on other important issues like tax reform.”
The Trump administration announced last week an end to the cost-sharing reduction subsidies, arguing the funds were not appropriated by Congress. The subsidies are aimed at lowering deductibles and co-payments for low-income individuals.
More than 37,000 West Virginians have health insurance through the state marketplace, and 85 percent of those individuals receive subsidies.
“The best course is to take this limited bipartisan first step that to avoid the chaos that could occur during 2018 and 2019 if premiums continue to skyrocket and millions of Americans find themselves without a way to purchase health insurance,” said Alexander, who is the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Murray, the committee’s ranking member, said this will address concerns caused by actions of the Trump administration.
“This is an agreement I am proud to support, not only because of these important steps to strengthen our health care system but because of the message it sends about the best way to get things done in this Congress,” she added.
The office of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., did not return a request for comment.
President Donald Trump told attendees of the Heritage Foundation’s President’s Club meeting he was pleased to see Democrats take responsibility for “Obamacare” by working with Republicans on a solution, but that is not enough.
“While I commend the bipartisan work done by Senators Alexander and Murray — and I do commend — it I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the ‘Obamacare’ mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies,” he said Tuesday evening.
Trump added the campaign to repeal and replace “Obamacare” will continue.
“I’ve been hearing that phrase for seven years. Seven years I’ve been hearing it, and so have you,” the president said. “I got here and I thought maybe when I sit down at that desk the first day, Jan. 20, I’ll have something to sign. Not as easy as we thought, but we’re going to get it done. You watch.”