McConnell Signals Openness to Shoring Up Insurance Exchanges

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that at a minimum, health insurance exchanges should be shored up. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday if 50 Republican senators don’t agree on a rollback of the 2010 health care law through the budget reconciliation process, there will need to be some sort of bipartisan measure to help the insurance markets.

“If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur,” the Kentucky Republican said, according to the Associated Press.

McConnell was speaking to the Rotary Club in Glasgow, Ky., which is in the southern part of the commonwealth.

“No action is not an alternative,” McConnell said.

Some GOP members, such as Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander, have previously expressed support for passing legislation in the short-term to help shore up the markets before a major overhaul of the health law is advanced.

“We might have to do some things and authorize some things in those two years that we wouldn’t do long-term,” the Tennesee Republican has said. “And then in 2020, we would hope to have our long-term solution for the people that don’t have the insurance.”

McConnell previously said that if there’s no agreement among Republicans, he will be forced to begin discussions with Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

Schumer was all too eager to jump on McConnell’s remarks. In a statement issued shortly after those remarks were reported, the minority leader said he was eager to help out on a measure to shore up the insurance programs.

“It’s encouraging that Sen. McConnell today acknowledged that the issues with the exchanges are fixable, and opened the door to bipartisan solutions to improve our health care system. As we’ve said time and time again, Democrats are eager to work with Republicans to stabilize the markets and improve the law. At the top of the list should be ensuring cost sharing payments are permanent, which will protect health care for millions.”

Niels Lesniewski and Joe Williams contributed to this report. 

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