President Trump’s top liaison to Capitol Hill previewed the demands the White House would be making — in the form of a set of “principles” — in exchange for its support of a short-term bipartisan Obamacare fix that is gaining steam in the Senate.
Among the concessions the White House desires is eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short claimed on CNN Thursday would lower premiums.
Not only are Short’s claims about the effect of nixing the mandate not true — insurers, in their rate filings this year, indicated that the uncertainty of whether the mandate would be watered down prompted them to raise rates — it is also extremely unrealistic.
“Absolutely not,” a Democratic Senate aide said to TPM via email, when asked if such a change could be on the negotiating table.
Short on CNN said that Trump “appreciated” the work the Senate measure’s lead negotiators, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-TN) have done, but that he did not support it in its current form. He echoed Trump’s rhetoric that subsidies to insurers for keeping out-of-pocket costs low — subsidies that are central to the current Senate compromise — are insurer bailouts, and suggested Trump could not support them.
Short indicated that the White House is also looking for an expansion of Health Savings Accounts in the changes it’s demanding to the stabilization bill. Additionally, he alleged that the concessions Democrats gave on state flexibility are already available to Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services.
His comments come as 24 Senate co-sponsors — half of them Republican — to the bill were announced Thursday. However, many of those supporterts admitted that even with the momentum the measure was gaining in the Senate, its chances in the House were dim unless Trump gave it a full-throated endorsement.
To say that Trump has given mixed messages on supporting Alexander-Murray would be an understatement: He seemed supportive of the measure when it was first announced while he was giving press conference, but then reversed his position a few hours later and has flip-flopped a number of times since.