President Donald Trump said Obamacare is “virtually dead,” but appears ready to keep it on life support for another two years.
Just days after ending subsidies to insurance companies, an executive policy put in place under President Barack Obama with no approval from Congress, the Senate appears to have a bipartisan agreement to restore subsidies for two years.
In that time, Trump believes there will be the votes to pass a bill similar to the Graham-Cassidy legislation that would have block granted Obamacare money to states.
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and ranking member Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., announced they reached a bipartisan deal backed by Senate leadership for a two-year extension of subsidies for insurance companies.
The deal would also allow states to experiment with different standards for insurance plans that don’t conform to federal requirements. Still, insurance companies would be required to cover pre-existing conditions.
“For Congress, the most important thing is to recognize that funding the cost-sharing reduction subsidies—as many are now calling for—would prop up the subsidized Obamacare exchange market, but would do absolutely nothing to stabilize the broader, unsubsidized individual market,” said Ed Haislmaier, a health care policy expert at The Heritage Foundation, in a statement.
“What is instead needed to stabilize the unsubsidized market is the removal of Obamacare’s cost-increasing insurance mandates and misguided regulations. To fix that Obamacare-caused damage and lower the cost of insurance, Congress will need to make other policy reforms,” he added.
“We have been involved,” Trump said of the deal Tuesday during a Rose Garden press conference with Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. “This is a short-term deal, because we think ultimately block grants going to the states is going to be the answer. That’s a very good solution. We think it’s going to not only save money, but give people much better health care with a very, very much smaller premium spike.”
Trump said the deal will “get us over this intermediate hump.”
“It is a short-term solution so that we don’t have this very dangerous little period, including dangerous period for insurance companies, by the way,” Trump said.
Earlier in the press conference, Trump predicted Obamcare’s demise.
“Obamacare is a disaster. It’s virtually dead. As far as I’m concerned, it really is dead,” Trump said. “It’s a concept that doesn’t work, and we are very close. We feel we have the votes—and as soon as we’re finished with taxes, we really feel we have the votes to get block grants into the states where the states can much better manage this money and much better take care of the people, rather than the federal government.”
Congress has failed to deliver on a seven-year promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.