House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will not support a bipartisan agreement to stabilize the Affordable Care Act’s private insurance markets.
“The speaker does not see anything that changes his view that the Senate should keep its focus on repeal and replace of Obamacare,” Ryan spokesman Doug Andres said Wednesday.
The agreement, brokered between Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), would fund payments that reimburse insurers for the plans they offer to low-income people. Those are the same subsidies — valued at $7 billion last year — that President Donald Trump announced last week he will cut off, his latest move to undermine the Affordable Care Act.
The Murray-Alexander plan would fund those subsidies for two years. In exchange for funding those payments, the bill would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to accept more appeals from states to waive certain provisions of Obamacare, giving states more flexibility in what policies they offer. (The Affordable Care Act’s requirement for all plans to cover certain essential health care benefits, such as maternity care and mental health, would remain in place, as would protections for people with pre-existing conditions.)
The bill, expected to be introduced later this week, will likely receive significant support from Democrats in the Senate. However, Ryan’s opposition could hurt its prospects in the House.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has stayed mum on when, or if, the bill would come to a vote on the Senate floor.
Trump, meanwhile, has wavered on his support for the plan. He initially praised the deal, before later describing it as a “bailout for insurance companies.”