President Donald Trump has reportedly offered his support for Alexander-Murray and other fixes for Obamacare in exchange for Congress’ approval of a tax bill that includes a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.
Trump made the pledge during a closed-door meeting with Republicans today, according to multiple sources, as part of a larger effort to rally support for the GOP’s controversial tax reform package. The tax bill emerged from the Senate Budget Committee after the meeting when two skeptical Republicans put their support behind the measure.
Trump’s promise to back the bipartisan fixes for Obamacare is an effort to win over moderate Republicans like Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Both have opposed full-scale rollbacks of the Affordable Care Act and voiced concern about repealing the individual mandate in the tax bill. Murkowski has since fallen into line on the issue, saying that the individual mandate is not necessary for the success of the health industry (it probably doesn’t hurt that ANWR is also in the tax bill).
Still, Trump’s promise was met with skepticism.
Why would Collins believe a promise from Trump? Are people really forgetting he was for Alexander-Murray before he was against it? That he called it a “bailout” of insurance companies like 1,000 times?
— Topher Spiro (@TopherSpiro) November 28, 2017
Trump has already flipped flopped on the legislation. He initially supported it before saying he didn’t.
Likewise, Murkowski called the Alexander-Murray legislation a must-have before she said it wasn’t.
The Alexander-Murray bill would enshrine the insurance subsidies Trump already cut off for two years and offer states greater flexibility to craft their own health care programs. The second piece of legislation Trump said he would support is authored by Collins, who’s remained skeptical of the inclusion of the individual mandate repeal, and would set up national funding for Alaska-style reinsurance programs that help insurers cover high-cost enrollees (it drove down premiums by more than 20 percent in Alaska).
It’s possible that the repeal of the individual mandate, which is the least popular provision of Obamacare, would satisfy the president’s campaign promise to repeal some portion of the law, allowing him to step aside and let Congress approve generally popular fixes for the health care system.