Policy

Alexander-Murray a ‘Nonstarter’ Say House Conservatives

Hatch and Brady to propose alternative solution

Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House conservatives appear united in opposition to the health care stabilization proposal crafted by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray.

“Right now it’s a nonstarter,” House Freedom Caucus member Dave Brat said Tuesday during a Conversations with Conservatives press event.

Brat, Freedom Caucus members Jim Jordan and Scott Perry, Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker and Rep. Matt Gaetz all spoke to their opposition to the bipartisan accord.

One aspect of the plan that conservatives oppose is the funding of cost-sharing reduction subsidies that the federal government pays to insurance companies to keep costs down for low-income individuals.

“You know who’s hurting under Obamacare?” Walker said. “The American people, not insurance companies.”

Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady announced an alternative plan to fund the health care law’s cost-sharing reduction payments with conservative changes to the law, including relief from the individual and employer mandates. The two say they will release legislative text in the coming days.

House conservatives expressed concerns about that forthcoming proposal from because it funds cost-sharing reduction subsidies to insurance companies.

“It is a problem,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan said. “We should not be funding the CSRs.”

Rep. Scott Perry said what would be more palatable is a voting on a measure the House passed last Congress that gets rid of the CSRs in an appropriate amount of time.

“I think every person up here is open-minded. If they’ve got a proposal, that’s great. We’ll take a look at it,” the Pennsylvania Republican said of the proposal Brady and Hatch plan to offer. 

Instead of being focused on insurance companies and their subsidies, Congress should be concerned about American families who can’t afford their deductibles, Perry said.  

“We’re interested in families that are struggling under the ACA, which is not affordable to them,” he said. 

Rep. Dave Brat said the real problem that needs to be addressed is the rate of insurance premium increases.

“Does adding subsidies solve that problem?” the Virginia Republican said. “No, it’s laughable.”

South Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman added: “It’s an insult for the insurance companies to be getting subsidies. It really is.”

Conservatives’ opposition to Alexander-Murray is backed by Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who said through a spokesman last week the Senate should remain focused on repealing the 2010 law, not propping it up.

With President Donald Trump also raising concerns about the deal, it’s possible it may never make it out of the Senate.

“I see it playing out by not playing out,” Perry said.

Mary Ellen McIntire contributed to this report.

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