Senators Reach Bipartisan Obamacare Deal - Opposing Views

Senators Reach Bipartisan Obamacare Deal

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A bipartisan deal to continue the cost-sharing reduction payments under the Obamacare system was finalized between two senators Oct. 17.

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray agreed to a proposal that would fund CSR payments for two years, according to ABC News.

It comes after President Donald Trump announced the cancellation of the payments and urged Congress to pass legislation on the matter. The White House had described the payments as a "bailout of insurance companies" and argued they were illegal because Congress never appropriated the funds for the payments.

CSR payments are used to cover deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for lower income Americans.

Trump referred to CSR payments Oct. 17 as "money that goes to the insurance companies to line their pockets" and "raise up their stock prices," ABC reported.

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But he welcomed news of the bipartisan deal.

"It will get us over this intermediate hump," he added.

Trump explained that Republicans are close to coming up with comprehensive legislation to repeal Obamacare.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer played a role in reaching the agreement.

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"We think it's a good solution," he told the media. "And it got broad support when [Murray] and I talked about it at the caucus lunch today."

"I'm really glad that Democrats and Republicans agree [stopping the payments is] unacceptable and that the uncertainty and dysfunction cannot continue," added Murray.

Premiums for 2018 have already been altered in some states following Trump's announcement that CSRs would be cut. In Rhode Island, where rates based on the assumption that the payments would continue were already approved, the state has been working in the days since Trump's announcement to increase them.

By contrast, North Dakota, which also approved rates on the expectation that CSRs would continue, told insurers after Trump's announcement that they could not apply for an additional increase in premiums.

"This is an issue that is between insurance carriers and the federal government, and while I understand the strain you are under in participating in this marketplace, it is my duty to look out for those consumers who have had to absorb multiple rounds of increases to their health insurance premiums without receiving any assistance from the federal government," North Dakota's insurance commissioner, Jon Godfread, said in a statement, according to The Washington Post.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that if CSR payments were not made, premiums would rise significantly. In Montana, one insurer which had initially requested a 4 percent hike for 2018 refiled with a request for a 24 percent premium increase following Trump's announcement.

It remains unclear how the Alexander-Murray compromise will affect premium rates.

Sources: ABC News, The Washington Post / Featured Image: U.S. Air National Guard via Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Federal Communications Commission/Flickr, White House via Wikimedia Commons

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