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Overnight Health Care: Senators reach tentative deal on ObamaCare insurer payments | Trump signals support | Drug czar nominee withdraws

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Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderChildren’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Overnight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children’s health insurance | Puerto Rico’s water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents’ right to sue Schumer calls for attaching ObamaCare fix to children’s health insurance MORE (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday that he and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayChildren’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Overnight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children’s health insurance | Puerto Rico’s water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents’ right to sue Schumer calls for attaching ObamaCare fix to children’s health insurance MORE (D-Wash.) have reached a bipartisan deal that would extend payments to insurers under ObamaCare that President Trump said he was ending last week.

The deal would extend the payments to insurers for two years and give states more flexibility to change ObamaCare rules. The negotiations had been aimed at stabilizing insurance markets.

Trump, who was holding a press conference with Greek’s prime minister as Alexander spoke with reporters, said what had been negotiated represented a “short-term” deal.

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The president said that he could support the deal, but argued an executive order he issued last week designed to change insurance markets represented a better path forward on health care.

Democrats were more positive, though Murray told reporters that there were a few “irons” to work out, suggesting the deal may not be completely final.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children’s health insurance | Puerto Rico’s water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents’ right to sue Crying on TV doesn’t qualify Kimmel to set nation’s gun agenda Trump knocks ‘fake’ news coverage of his trip to Puerto Rico MORE (D-N.Y.) said he was “pleased” with the deal and urged Republican leaders to take it up as soon as possible. He said the measure includes “anti-sabotage” measures, an apparent reference to restoring the outreach funding.

Even with Trump’s support, it’s not entirely clear that a deal negotiated by Alexander and Murray can get through Congress.

In the House, in particular, Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanThe Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Gun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker Tim Murphy to retire at end of term MORE (R-Wis.) may face opposition from conservatives in his own conference over any deal that might be seen as saving ObamaCare.

It is also not clear that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-Ky.) will bring the measure to the floor — nor is it clear it would win 60 votes on procedural motions, the threshold for breaking a filibuster.

Read more here.

More on Trump’s reaction…

President Trump on Tuesday appeared to signal support for a bipartisan deal to help stabilize ObamaCare. 

Trump called the proposal “a short-term solution so that we don’t have this very dangerous little period” for insurance companies.

The president spoke minutes after Senate Health Committee Chairman Lama Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced he and ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) had reached an agreement to aid insurers.

“They are working together and I know very much what they’re doing,” Trump said.  

But the president stressed he sees the Alexander-Murray plan as a temporary fix and said he plans to push forward with a repeal of former President Obama’s signature health-care law.

“We either have the votes or [are]very close to having the votes, and we will get the votes for having the potential to have great health care,” he said.

“We ultimately think block grants going to the states is the answer,” he added.

Read more here.

Heritage Foundation rips deal

A senior fellow for the Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative think tank, ripped a bipartisan deal on Tuesday that would provide funding for key health-care subsidies that President Trump recently announced he would cut off.

In a statement issued hours after Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), leaders of the Senate Health Committee, announced that they had agreed on a plan to stabilize insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act, Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow in health-care policy for the Heritage Foundation, said the proposal would offer little stability for the unsubsidized insurance market.

“For Congress, the most important thing is to recognize that funding the cost sharing reduction subsidies — as many are now calling for — would prop up the subsidized ObamaCare exchange market, but would do absolutely nothing to stabilize the broader, unsubsidized individual market,” he said in a statement.

Read more here.

House Freedom chair calls deal a ‘good start’

The chairman of the powerful House Freedom Caucus said more work needs to be done to get conservatives to support a bipartisan Senate deal to extend critical ObamaCare payments to insurers, but he called it a starting point.

“There are elements in the Alexander-Murray plan that we can build on, but much more work needs to be done,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C) in a statement, but he called it a “good start.”

The statement from Meadows doesn’t mean the Freedom Caucus has taken an official position on the plan, but the fact that Meadows did not reject the deal outright could be significant, as Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is expected to run into serious opposition from fellow Republicans if the bill advances to the House.

Read more here.

Trump drug czar nominee withdraws 

Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) is withdrawing his name from consideration as the nation’s drug czar, President Trump announced Tuesday. 

“Rep.Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar. Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!” Trump tweeted.

The withdrawal followed a Washington Post-“60 Minutes” joint investigation that highlighted his support for legislation that weakened the government’s ability to go after drug companies, something critics say has contributed to the nation’s opioid crisis.

Marino was a leader in passing the legislation last year that made it tougher for the Drug Enforcement Administration to stop suspicious shipments of prescription drugs. The pharmaceutical industry heavily lobbied for the bill and showered Marino and other lawmakers with campaign contributions.

A number of senators, including a key centrist, Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: EPA aims to work more closely with industry Overnight Finance: Lawmakers grill Equifax chief over hack | Wells Fargo CEO defends bank’s progress | Trump jokes Puerto Rico threw budget ‘out of whack’ | Mortgage tax fight tests industry clout Lawmakers try again on miners’ pension bill MORE (D-W.Va.), on Monday had called for the president to withdraw his nomination.

Read more here.

Dems introduce public option for ObamaCare 

Sens. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetAmeriCorps hurricane heroes deserve a reward — don’t tax it Joe Buck defends ‘nonviolent protests’ at NFL games Patriotism is no defense for Trump’s attacks on black athletes MORE (D-Colo.) and Tim KaineTimothy Michael KaineAuthorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient Week ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny Insurer Anthem to cover bare ObamaCare counties in Virginia MORE (D-Va.) on Tuesday introduced a bill to add a government-run “public option” plan to ObamaCare, modeled on Medicare.

The plan, part of a long-running debate in the Democratic Party about how far to go in expanding government-run health insurance, would move ObamaCare to the left but does not go as far as Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Clip shows Larry David and Bernie Sanders reacting after discovering they’re related For now, Trump dossier creates more questions than answers MORE‘s (I-Vt.) “Medicare for all” plan.

Instead of scrapping ObamaCare and extending Medicare to everyone, as Sanders’s plan does, the Bennet and Kaine bill would provide an option modeled on Medicare as a choice alongside private plans offered through the existing ObamaCare system. 

“We don’t blow up the existing system,” Kaine told reporters. “We maintain the system.”

Read more here.

GOP senators seek to repeal ObamaCare’s insurance mandate 

Legislation introduced by two GOP senators would exempt certain people from ObamaCare’s requirement that everyone must purchase health insurance or pay a fine.

Sens. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNewly declassified memos detail extent of improper Obama-era NSA spying Overnight Tech: FCC won’t fine Colbert over Trump joke | Trump budget slashes science funding | Net neutrality comment period opens Appeals court decision keeps lawsuit against NSA surveillance alive MORE (R-Pa.) and Tom CottonTom CottonHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Republicans jockey for position on immigration The Hill’s 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ark.) called the law’s individual mandate “cruel” and said they want to exempt working class Americans from the requirement.

The legislation would exempt anyone who earns less than the national median household income; lives in a state where the average premium increased by more than 10 percent year over year; or anyone who lives in a county with only one insurer.

“Nearly 80 percent of the Americans who paid the individual-mandate penalty in 2016 earned less than $50,000,” Toomey and Cotton said in a statement.

Read more here.

Join us Tuesday, October 24, for America’s Opioid Epidemic: Aging & Addiction, featuring Reps. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkDem announces new cyberstalking bill at SXSW Bill would offer protections for domestic violence victims’ pets Boehner swears in Clark MORE (D-Mass.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.). Topics include the opioid epidemic’s impact on older Americans, initiatives to curb opioid abuse, and alternative solutions to pain management. RSVP Here

What we’re reading 

Top U.S. health insurer to look at Trump ObamaCare alternatives (Bloomberg)

Another outbreak related to the nation’s opioid crisis: hepatitis C (The Washington Post)

What Trump supporters hear about health care (The New York Times)

State by state 

Massachusetts state senators unwrap sweeping health care reform package (Associated Press)

New Oregon health care tax will go to voters in special election (Associated Press)

Among Democrats running for governor, single-payer health care gains support (twincities.com

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