Last week, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced an agreement to restore federal payments that help offset out-of-pocket health insurance costs for low-income Americans. The deal would give states more flexibility in how they regulate health coverage, a conservative goal.
But the administration signaled to Senate Republican negotiators Friday that it also wants to give individuals and employers retroactive relief from the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandate, according to individuals briefed on the matter, a request sure to anger Democrats.
The individuals briefed on what the White House privately signaled to Senate Republicans were granted anonymity to describe closed-door talks that had not been announced publicly. They said that nothing was final and that the negotiations were ongoing and could change rapidly.
While the moves were part of what could become a more extended negotiation, the White House requests — which also include providing states with broader leeway — could derail the carefully crafted bipartisan package unveiled this week.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that “all 48 Democrats” in the Senate are ready to support the bipartisan agreement and that McConnell should bring it to the floor now. “This is a good compromise. It took months to work out,” Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It has 60 senators supporting it. We have all 48 Democrats, 12 Republicans. I would urge Senator McConnell to put it on the floor immediately, this week. It will pass. It will pass by a large number of votes. That will put pressure on the House.”
Schumer declined to say whether he would be willing to engage in more negotiations on the measure. “We have an agreement,” he said. “We want to stick by it.”