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Trump suggests he won't back bipartisan healthcare measure

Washington, Oct 19 (IANS) US President Donald Trump raised doubts on Wednesday about his support for a bipartisan initiative to restore the ObamaCare subsidies he suspended last week in exchange for states’ getting greater flexibility regulating health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The comment came less than 24 hours after the president appeared to have endorsed the proposal from Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wa.), Efe reports.

A reporter asked about Trump’s position on the “bipartisan healthcare bill” as the Republican president was concluding a meeting with members of the Senate Finance Committee to discuss tax reform.

“We’re going to see the bipartisan. And Lamar Alexander is working on it very hard from our side. And if something can happen, that’s fine. But I won’t do anything to enrich the insurance companies because right now the insurance companies are being enriched. They’ve been enriched by ObamaCare like nothing anybody has ever seen before,” Trump said.

The president was referring to cost-sharing reduction payments, known as CSRs, that help low-income people pay their health insurance premiums.

Trump issued an executive order last week halting CSRs and the Alexander-Murray plan envisions re-instating the payments for two years while giving states “more flexibility in the variety of choices they can give to consumers.”

“I am not going to do anything to enrich the insurance companies,” the president said Wednesday.

He signed an executive order last Thursday loosening some of the requirements set down for health insurance plans by the ACA, the signature domestic policy initiative of predecessor Barack Obama.

Hours later, he signed another directive terminating the CSR payments, a move Democrats said was meant to sabotage the ACA.

The president, who vowed to repeal and replace the ACA – popularly known as ObamaCare – has grown frustrated by the failure of the Republican-controlled Congress to pass a bill undoing the 2010 legislation.

Alexander said that Trump encouraged him to continue working on the bipartisan bid when the two men spoke by telephone earlier Wednesday.

Republican lawmakers were reluctant to comment on the Alexander-Murray accord when it was announced on Tuesday, but later, House Speaker Paul Ryan – through a spokesperson – rejected the idea and urged the Senate to concentrate on the “repeal and replacement” of ObamaCare.

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