“Key Senators Just Struck a Bipartisan Deal to Stop Trump’s Obamacare Sabotage” said the headline at Mother Jones as they tried to create false hope of a deal to prevent the worst from happening. Many of my friends on Facebook were happy about it. They shouldn’t be. It’s not going to happen.
The deal, negotiated by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), would fund the CSR subsidies that Trump just cut off for two years while also codifying in more flexibility for states to allow insurance policies that don’t meet the minimum standards of the Affordable Care Act and speed up the process for states to get waivers from even more requirements, like the kinds of treatments all insurance policies must cover (and the requirement of covering preexisting conditions). But both the Congressional leadership and the White House quickl threw cold water on the idea:
WH already pushes back on Alexander-Murray agreement on CSRs. Marc Short says "we need a lot more than 1332 waivers" to accept it.
— Leigh Ann Caldwell (@LACaldwellDC) October 17, 2017
Marc Short is the White House Director of Legislative Affairs and Deputy Assistant to the President, and 1332 waivers are the ones allowed under section 1332 of the ACA, which this new agreement would speed up. The chair of the Republican Study Group, a conservative House caucus, immediately put out a statement saying that Congress “should focus on repealing & replacing Obamacare, not trying to save it. This bailout is unacceptable.” And Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wouldn’t even promise to bring it up for a vote on the floor of the Senate, where it has a better chance of passing than it does in the House.
But even if it does pass, it certainly won’t pass by a margin that would overcome a Trump veto. And if we’ve learned one thing, it’s that Trump is obsessed with getting rid of Obamacare (and all of Obama’s legacy, for that matter). He isn’t going to sign a bill that preserves it and reverses the action he just took to help destroy it. This is all just false hope. The only way this happens at all is if funding for those CSR subsidies is put into a larger appropriations bill that Trump can’t veto and can pass both chambers, which is itself really, really unlikely because the Republicans have the votes to kill it.