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Patty Murray, Lamar Alexander
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., accompanied by the committee's ranking member Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2107, during the committee's executive session to discuss the nomination of Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Senators have reached a bipartisan deal to save the Obamacare markets


Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate health committee have reached a bipartisan deal to provide funding for health insurance subsidies, Alexander said on Tuesday.

Last week, President Trump said the administration would stop making the payments, which help cover the cost of insurance for low-income Americans on the individual Obamacare market.

The bipartisan would fund the subsidies, known as cost-sharing reductions, for two years, Alexander (R-Tenn.) told reporters. The move is intended to give insurers some financial certainty and help keep the cost of premiums down.

The cost-sharing reductions cost about $7 billion this year.

Alexander and Murray (D-Wash.) have been working together for weeks on legislation to stabilize the markets under the Affordable Care Act.

Speaking to reporters after a closed-door GOP lunch conference on Tuesday, Alexander said Trump "seems to like this idea."

At the White House, Trump told reporters "It's a short-term solution so we don't have this very dangerous little period."

Trump also signed an executive order last week that critics say will sabotage the Obamacare insurance markets. The order would allow small business owners and self-employed Obamacare enrollees to form association health groups. The groups could bargain with insurance companies to get lower rates and insurers could offer the groups cheaper plans that don't meet all of the Obamacare coverage requirements.

Critics say the order would draw healthier Americans away from the Obamacare insurance pool, leaving sicker, older Americans behind with much higher premiums.

It remains to be seen whether the bipartisan deal will be able to gain enough votes to pass both chambers of Congress.

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