President says he supports health care subsidies in budget bill

Written on Mar 22, 2018

President Trump assured two Senate Republicans that he wants tens of billions of dollars to lower health care premiums included in a must-pass spending bill.

The President made the commitment related to payments to insurers under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in an hour-long Saturday call with Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Trump then called top GOP leaders in the House and Senate to reiterate his support for the deal.

However, it remains uncertain whether the health care language would end up in the massive $1 trillion-plus spending bill that must pass by March 23 at midnight to stave off a government shutdown. The legislation was expected to be released March 19, but several issues, including the health care language, were still being debated between the parties.

The health care deal would represent a fulfillment of commitments that Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had previously made to Collins. Collins cited these commitments when she voted in favor of the new tax law last year. She and Alexander have been working for months to push legislation aimed at lowering premiums for people buying health-care coverage on the individual market under the ACA.

The deal would provide $30 billion over three years in reinsurance money to cushion insurance payments for people with high health claims. It would also restart the so-called cost sharing reduction payments made to insurers under the ACA, which President Trump ended in the fall. The cost-sharing reduction payments would be made retroactively and would continue for three years.

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