- Yuri Gripas/Reuters
GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander announced Tuesday that bipartisan talks around a bill designed to stabilize the individual insurance markets had fallen through, prompting calls of sabotage from top Democrats.
“During the last month, we have worked hard and in good faith, but we have not found the necessary consensus among Republicans and Democrats to put a bill in the Senate leaders’ hands that could be enacted,” said Alexander, the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
But Democrats say Republican leaders intentionally submarined the attempt to provide security for insurers and beneficiaries on the marketplaces to aid a push for their newest GOP healthcare bill, the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson plan.
“I am disappointed that Republican leaders have decided to freeze this bipartisan approach and are trying to jam through a partisan Trumpcare bill, but I am confident that we can reach a deal if we keep working together – and I am committed to getting that done,” said Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the HELP Committee.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office also pinned the blame squarely on the Republican leadership for the failure of the talks.
“This is not about substance – we gave them many of the things they asked for, including copper plans and wide waiver authority,” Matt House, a spokesman for Schumer, said in a statement. “The Republican leadership is so eager to pass Graham-Cassidy that they’re scuttling a balanced, bipartisan negotiation.”
Some top Republicans, like the Senate Finance Committee chair, Orrin Hatch, and House Speaker Paul Ryan, publicly said they would not consider the bipartisan legislation from Alexander and Murray. The White House also reportedly pushed against the proposal.