Republicans have been attempting to repeal and replace Obamacare for months. The House of Representatives Passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and sent it to the Senate. In the Senate, a profound ideological divide between Republicans makes crafting a repeal and replace bill nearly impossible. After the “skinny repeal” bill failed in the Senate on a 51-49 vote, many on Capitol Hill are urging lawmakers to try a bipartisan approach to finding healthcare solution.
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is the chairman of the Senate Health Committee. Alexander announced Tuesday that he would hold bipartisan hearings in his committee in the first week of September.
His goal is to create a bipartisan, short-term plan by mid-September. Alexander hopes that a bipartisan effort in his committee might produce a plan to stabilize the Obamacare healthcare exchanges.
Alexander offered a glimpse into the upcoming debate saying:
“Any solution that Congress passes for a 2018 stabilization package would need to be small, bipartisan and balanced. It should include funding for the cost-sharing reductions, but it should also include greater flexibility for states in approving health insurance policies.”
While many Republican lawmakers still insist on repealing Obamacare and a unilateral approach to healthcare solutions, the support for a bipartisan effort is increasing. In the House, members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group made up of an even split between Republicans and Democrats, have put together a bipartisan plan to provide fixes for problems in the Affordable Care Act.
Members of that caucus expressed their support for Alexander’s effort to create a bipartisan solution in the Senate. Representative Tom Reed (R-NY) who is a leader of the caucus said he is “pleased to see Lamar Alexander taking the lead and beginning to hold hearings on what we’re discussing here.”
The President, along with several other GOP lawmakers, remain uninterested in bipartisan talks. The President prefers to allow Obamacare to “implode.” Alexander’s plan to return to regular order and hold bipartisan hearings signals a Republican split with the president.
With the Senate breaking for a delayed recess in mid-August, it is unlikely they will get another repeal and replace effort together before leaving the Capitol. The break will allow Alexander time to begin talking to Democrats.