Lawmakers Reach Bipartisan Agreement on Healthcare Subsidies

Sen. Patty Murray at a 2017 event defending the Affordable Care Act (Unmodified Creative Commons photo by Mobilus In Mobili.

In a surprising show of bipartisanship at a time when the government is deeply divided, U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., have devised a plan to extend healthcare subsidies.

The announcement came on Tuesday afternoon from Senator Alexander, the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and Senator Murray, the Ranking Member of the same committee.

The plan would guarantee subsidies to insurance companies over a period of two years.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health insurance companies are paid these subsidies, called cost-sharing reductions, in order to reduce the cost of covering individuals that are low-income or have a pre-existing condition that makes covering them more expensive. Many Republicans believe that these subsidies distort the healthcare market and place an undue burden on the federal government.

The deal was in response to President Donald Trump stating that he intended to end the healthcare subsidies of the ACA via executive order. Tuesday, he said he approved of the senators’ deal as a “short-term solution” to the problem.

Healthcare has been one of the defining issues of this congressional session, with major disagreements between the two parties over the role that government should play in providing healthcare.

The implementation of the healthcare deal is not official as of now as many conservative Republicans in the House and Senate continue to oppose any government intervention in healthcare.

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