Bipartisan Health Care Bill Racks Up Cosponsors Despite Trump Opposition

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 19: Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., ranking member, are seen during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled "Examining How Healthy Choices Can Improve Health Outcomes and Reduce Costs," on October 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Tom Williams/CQPHO

Since President Trump moved last week to cut off cost-sharing reduction payments to health insurance companies, Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have been furiously whipping votes on their respective sides of the aisle on a bipartisan bill to restore that funding and stabilize Obamacare’s vulnerable individual market.

On Thursday, they took to the Senate floor to announce that they have secured 24 co-sponsors: 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans. If all Democrats back the proposal, which they are expected to do, this gives the bill a filibuster-proof supermajority.

The Democratic co-sponsors are: Murray, Angus King (I-ME), Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Joe Donnelley (D-IN), Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Claire McCaskill (D-MI), Heidi Heitkamp (D-NE), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).

The GOP sponsors, many of them influential committee chairs, are: Alexander, Mike Rounds (R-SD), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bob Corker (R-TN), Johnny Isakson (R-AK) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

Alexander said he’s been hearing from people in his state who are “terrified by the prospect of skyrocketing premiums,” and emphasized that the bill would not cost any additional federal money to implement.

“Unless the cost-sharing payments are replaced,” he warned, “there will be chaos in this country and millions of Americans will be hurt.”

Speaking to reporters in the hallway outside the Senate chamber, Alexander noted that while passing the bill will be an uphill battle given a hostile House and a wavering White House, he believes it can happen before 2018.

“The House voted in their repeal and replace bill to continue cost-sharing payments for two years,” Alexander said. “So that sounds to me like something that’s going to become a law in one form or another before the year is over.”

“This is a problem that is crying out for a solution, and it will be up to the Senate and the House and the President to consider it, to amend it, to improve it, and to pass it, which I think they’ll probably do,” he said.

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