Signs of trouble in Senate's ACA stabilization talks

Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander during committee hearing
Republicans are wary of ACA stabilization measures that would appear like a “bailout” of the law.

As a Senate committee continues its effort to craft a bipartisan healthcare bill, Democrats are worried that Republicans' requests might jeopardize their ability to strike a speedy deal.

A senior Democratic aide told The Hill that some Democrats in the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee are concerned that the GOP members may be trying to pull the bipartisan negotiations in a more conservative direction. The committee is hoping to hammer out a deal by the end of the week.

“Republicans appear to be pulling the negotiations in a more partisan direction from their side by pushing changes that Democrats have made clear from the start they wouldn’t agree to—like rolling back protections for patients with pre-existing conditions," the aide told the publication.

RELATED: Special Report—8 ways to fix the Affordable Care Act

State leaders of both parties have testified before the HELP committee on a number of strategies to stabilize the Affordable Care Act exchanges, like funding cost-sharing reduction payments and establishing reinsurance programs. But the hearings coul  run into more divided territory if Republicans push for a more conservative approach to overhauling the ACA's state innovation waivers, reports Axios.

A senior Republican aide told the publication that HELP Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has privately discussed making more significant changes to the program, including cutting benefit mandates and consumer protections, a move Democrats would staunchly oppose.

Alexander has also said that Democrats will need to make concessions for the GOP to fund CSRs, though he hasn’t said explicitly what that would entail, according to the aide .

RELATED: Senate hearings reveal some state officials aren’t buying what Bill Cassidy is selling

Republicans are wary of ACA stabilization measures that would appear like a “bailout” of the law. Some are also simply sick of dealing with healthcare policy, according to Axios.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, articulated that view in an editorial last week for The Washington Post, saying that “solutions proffered thus far would do little more than shore up the bad policies already in place with another slate of bad policies. Instead, he said, Congress should focus on “legitimate, long-term reforms.”