Lamar Alexander: Trump supports ACA stabilization bills

Sen. Susan Collins
The White House and Republican leaders are doing their best to win over Sen. Susan Collins, who is a swing vote on their tax plan. (Shirley Li/Medill/CC BY 2.0)

President Donald Trump, who once called cost-sharing reduction payments “bailouts” for health insurers, now is said to support two Affordable Care Act stabilization bills—including one that funds CSRs.

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., tweeted Tuesday that Trump indicated during a closed-door meeting with GOP senators that he supported both the Alexander-Murray bill and the Collins-Nelson reinsurance proposal.

The former bill, which Alexander drafted alongside Patty Murray, D-Wash., would fund CSR payments for two years and give states greater flexibility to oversee their individual insurance markets, among other policies. Trump decided in October to stop funding the CSR program, and has since expressed conflicting sentiments about the Alexander-Murray bill.

The latter bill—authored by Senators Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Bill Nelson, D-Fla.—would provide funding to states that establish invisible high risk pool or reinsurance programs. 

Trump’s support for both bills likely can be traced to the fact that Collins remains undecided about the GOP tax bill, which advanced past the Senate Budget Committee Tuesday on a party-line vote. She has indicated that if the final version of the bill repeals the individual mandate, she wants to see both stabilization bills pass in order to mitigate any adverse effects on the ACA marketplaces.

Prominent Democrats, though, are not on board. Murray said recently that tacking the Alexander-Murray bill onto the GOP tax reform effort “is like trying to put out a fire with penicillin.”

“The Alexander-Murray bill was intended to lower costs and stabilize the market—but millions of people will still be left paying more and losing coverage if Senate Republicans sabotage families’ healthcare to help millionaires and billionaires get more tax breaks they probably don’t need,” she added.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took a similar view, telling reporters on Tuesday that “you can't sabotage the entire system and then say you're going to do a small little fix on top of that sabotage,” according to The Hill. 

Previously, Schumer said Democrats wouldn’t help the GOP pass the Alexander-Murray bill if the individual mandate repeal remains in the tax reform package.