On Thursday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) will officially roll out the health-care bill he negotiated with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), flanked by a "significant" number of Republican and Democratic cosponsors, Alexander said Wednesday. The bipartisan bill, dubbed Alexander-Murray, is expected to go nowhere for now, as President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) came out against it on Wednesday. But "by the end of the year, chances are very good this agreement or something like it is law," Alexander said. Analysts agree.
Congress already has a packed December, including "funding the government and raising the debt ceiling — must-pass items that can only pass with a lot of Democratic votes, just like Alexander-Murray," says Sam Baker at Axios. "If Alexander-Murray doesn't pass before then, it's pretty easy to see Democratic leaders insisting on some form of Affordable Care Act stabilization as part of the end-of-year package. And this bill, or something close to it, is likely the best Republicans are going to get."
Wrapping up something like Alexander-Murray — which guarantees two years of cost-sharing subsidies that insurance companies use to lower out-of-pocket costs for poorer customers, plus easing some coverage requirements on states — in an end-of-the-year omnibus package "would be less painful than voting on a stand-alone bill that conservatives view as a 'bailout' for insurance companies — and a vote to 'prop up' a law they've tried to dismantle for years," Politico notes. And with premiums already rising because Trump cut off the cost-sharing subsidies, or CSRs, "at some point [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell and Ryan will need this," a senior GOP aide told Axios' Caitlin Owens.