President Trump looks to be turning to new allies to pass a health care bill after Senate Republicans failed yet again to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare last week.
“I called Chuck Schumer yesterday to see if the Dems want to do a great HealthCare Bill,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning. “ObamaCare is badly broken, big premiums. Who knows!”
I called Chuck Schumer yesterday to see if the Dems want to do a great HealthCare Bill. ObamaCare is badly broken, big premiums. Who knows!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2017
Trump has been friendlier with Schumer, the Senate minority leader — as well as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — in recent weeks.
Last month, the trio struck a deal on a short-term debt limit increase. Pelosi and Schumer also said they struck a deal with Trump to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, though Trump has gone back and forth on whether he made a deal on DACA with Democrats.
Schumer responded to Trump’s tweet in a statement Saturday morning, confirming that he had spoken with the president about a health care deal.
“The president wanted to make another run at repeal and replace and I told him that’s off the table,” Schumer said. “If he wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions. A good place to start might be the Alexander-Murray negotiations that would stabilize the system and lower costs.”
— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) October 7, 2017
The Alexander-Murray negotiations Schumer refers to are ongoing attempts by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and ranking member Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).
The negotiations were put on hold when the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act picked up speed in late September, but Republicans have conceded that they do not have the votes to pass the bill. Graham-Cassidy would have block granted health care funding to the states, make drastic cuts to Medicaid, and could have left more than 32 million people uninsured over the next decade.
In the days since Senate leadership announced the bill would not go to a vote, Schumer and others have said a bipartisan deal on the Alexander-Murray negotiations could be forthcoming.
“Maybe by the end of next week, we will go and hand a piece of legislation to Sen. McConnell and Sen. Schumer,” Alexander said last Thursday.
And leadership appears to be open to the idea.
“We’ve tried it the other way a couple of times,” Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has said of the party’s failure to pass health care legislation. “So we need to try to see if we can come up with a bipartisan agreement. It’s obviously been very hard.”
Although details about what the bill would include are not yet clear, Democrats have said the deal would include funding for Obamacare subsidies (which the White House has repeatedly threatened not to pay) and provide states with some measure of flexibility to change Obamacare requirements.
Before negotiations broke off, Politico reports there was a tentative agreement on two years of funding.