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President Donald Trump endorses short-term bipartisan fix for Obamacare

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wa.) announced an accord in principle to re-instate for two years the cost-sharing reduction payments.

Reported by: IANS, Washington [ Published on: October 18, 2017 7:56 IST ]
File pic of US President Donald Trump
File pic of US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday expressed support for a bipartisan initiative to restore the Obamacare subsidies he suspended last week.

"We have been involved and this is a short-term deal because we think ultimately block grants going to the states is going to be the answer," Trump told reporters at the White House.

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wa.) announced on Tuesday an accord "in principle" to re-instate for two years the cost-sharing reduction payments, known as CSRs, that Trump halted last week.

The proposal would at the same time give states "more flexibility in the variety of choices they can give to consumers", Alexander said.

Alexander, the chair of the Senate Health Committee, received encouragement from the President last weekend for his attempt to find common ground with the Democrats.

"Lamar has been working very, very hard with ... his colleagues on the other side, and, Patty Murray is one of them in particular, and they're coming up, and they're fairly close to a short-term solution. The solution will be for about a year or two years, and it will get us over this intermediate hump," Trump said on Tuesday.

Trump signed an executive order last Thursday loosening some of the requirements set down for health insurance plans by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the signature domestic policy initiative of his predecessor Barack Obama.

He signed another directive terminating the CSR payments late Thursday night.

The President, who vowed to repeal and replace the ACA - popularly known as Obamacare - has grown frustrated by the failure of the Republican-controlled Congress to pass a bill undoing the 2010 legislation.

"This takes care of the next two years," Alexander said of his and Murray's proposal. "After that, we can have a full-fledged debate on where we go long-term on health care."

Murray, meanwhile, said that the plan would protect people from sharp increases in premiums resulting from Trump's decision to end the CSR payments.

"Overall we are very pleased with this agreement," Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said, praising the deal for including "anti-sabotage provisions" to prevent the administration from undermining the ACA.

The Republican lawmakers were reluctant to comment on the Alexander-Murray accord.

"We haven't had a chance to think about the way forward yet," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after meeting with his Republican colleagues.

Despite his encouraging words for Alexander, Trump kept up his criticism of the ACA.

"Obamacare is virtually dead. At best you could say it's in its final legs. The premiums are going through the roof. The deductibles are so high that people don't get to use it. Obamacare is a disgrace to our nation and we are solving the problem of Obamacare," he said.

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