Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) are offering a short-term bipartisan health care solution that will help stabilize the marketplace following President Donald Trump’s executive order to end cost-sharing reduction subsidies to insurance companies. In a new interview, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) believes that if this bill passes it could lead to the resurrection of his co-sponsored health care bill, also known as the Graham-Cassidy bill, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
“As I understand the bill, there are several things that are good for Republicans,” Cassidy said.
While the new plan would reinstate subsidies, it adds provisions that give more power back to the states and options for young people.
“Republicans are all about giving states flexibility. Graham-Cassidy gives them the ultimate flexibility, but in the interim, this is a nice start,” Cassidy continued.
Sen. Cassidy said that he is still reviewing the new plan, but, so far, he’s found some successes for the Republican party beginning with affordability.
“If it happens to stabilize premiums for working families, that’s in it for Republicans because I’m here to represent those working families,” he explained, justifying the bipartisan agreement between Alexander and Murray.
The Louisiana Senator said the new bill would give more power to the states, which was a major selling point of his Graham- Cassidy bill.
“There’s also, so I’m told, flexibility if a state wants to come to the federal government now their waiver’s more likely to be approved,” he said.
Cassidy argued that the language in the bill lessens the restrictions on states that want to put forth their own health insurance plans. However, experts say that the plans’ changes are relatively small. Under Obamacare, states that wished to offer an alternative to Obamacare had to go through an extensive process that essentially discouraged individualized plans. The new bill would take some of the burdens off of states and simplify the approval process, but overall the requirements remain relatively similar and complicated for states.
The Alexander-Murray plan would only be a short-term fix. However, Cassidy believes it is a step in the right direction that will drive the conversation towards shifting power back to the states.
“For those people who think, ‘Oh my God! We can’t give states flexibility,’ I think that this initial period will show when you give states flexibility, good things happen,” Cassidy said.
Graham-Cassidy never reached the Senate floor after a number of senators spoke out against it. Cassidy said that there is “only a matter of time before we do something different.”
The new plan comes in response to President Trump’s call to action last week where he rescinded former President Obama’s order that granted federal subsidies to private insurance companies.
“Obama did something with a pen and a phone. Trump is saying, ‘No, that’s not the way to do it. Congress you’ve got six months to figure it out,'” he continued.
President Trump, who considers himself a skilled negotiator despite a lack of legislative action, has brought Republicans and Democrats to the table on many issues. Cassidy is excited by this change of pace.
“His reflex is to ask Congress to act, that’s a good thing, and he is forcing us to negotiate,” he said.
Cassidy applauds the President for rightly allocating the power back to lawmakers and revoking what Cassidy considers executive overreach in place from the previous administration.
“I think its been far more effective for restoring how our government is supposed to work than President Obama usurpation of congressional power,” Cassidy said.
In remarks on Wednesday, President Trump seemed encouraged by the bipartisan effort. However, he made it clear that he does not want lawmakers to ‘enrich’ insurance companies.
“We’re going to see the bipartisan, and Lamar Alexander is working on it very hard from our side,” President Trump told reporters, “And if something can happen, that’s fine; but I won’t do anything to enrich the insurance companies because right now the insurance companies are being enriched”