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NYT: GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander on Healthcare 'Rescue Mission'

Image: NYT: GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander on Healthcare 'Rescue Mission'
Sen. Lamar Alexander (AP)

By    |   Saturday, 05 Aug 2017 12:07 PM

Republican Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander is on a "rescue mission" to address in a bipartisan manner the problems of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, despite the challenges, wranglings and criticisms he will most undoubtedly receive in the process, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Alexander, a former lawyer and state lawmaker who has been in the Senate since 2003, chairs the Senate Health Committee, and is working with the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, to find answers to a current healthcare program facing serious trouble.

"This won't be easy to do," Alexander told the Times in a podcast "The New Washington," adding, "We are going to do our best to do it."

It was the latest failed vote by the Senate that prompted Alexander to work with Democratic senators to address the most pressing problems facing Obamacare.

In the past, Alexander has voted repeatedly to repeal Obamacare. But now, he's working with Murray to convene hearings in September when the Senate returns. That's no small task in itself, since his committee also includes Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who have their own diverse notions of what a healthcare program should look like in the nation.

Should Alexander and Murray succeed at the Senate level, challenges remain as legislation would move on to the House and ultimately to President Donald Trump's desk. The president has staunchly promoted a full repeal of the law and recently suggested he would let the law "implode."

Alexander's vision centers around a plan that would stabilize the program, perhaps by a year, by guaranteeing consumer subsidies to insurance companies and giving states more flexibility to offer a greater number of insurance options to consumers.

"It has to be simple if we are to get bipartisan agreement by mid-September on an issue that has divided the parties so much," Alexander said.

Stabilizing the markets for a year, he added, would provide breathing room to "tackle bigger issues" on health care.

Many lawmakers, who ran for office on a platform of a complete repeal of Obamacare, object to what they see as an attempt to prop up Obamacare and offer a bailout to insurance companies.

Yet Alexander remains "undeterred," the article explained.

"You are not going to think very much of me if I come up here and all I do is argue and never get a result," he said. "The job is to get a result that can last and people respect that when we do."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who voted against the Senate's latest failed "skinny" repeal bill, said he had "great faith" Alexander and other senators could succeed.

Alexander has forged relationships with leaders of each party, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. Conservative critics are already targeting Alexander over his bipartisan approach, the article explained.

"The Senate's inability to produce 51 votes for a piece of legislation that delivers on a seven-year campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare is not license for a bipartisan bailout of a failing law," said Michael Needham, head of conservative advocacy group Heritage Action. "Obamacare is becoming a zombie law, and throwing more taxpayer money at Zombiecare is unacceptable."

Should Alexander be successful, he is hopeful the bipartisan approach on healthcare could translate to other legislation.

"We have got a fractured country," he said. "This is the most important institution for creating a consensus on tough issues like health care, like civil rights, like elementary and secondary education."

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Republican Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander is on a "rescue mission" to address in a bipartisan manner the problems of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, despite the challenges, wranglings and criticisms he will most undoubtedly receive in the process, The New York Times...
Sen. Lamar Alexander, bipartisan, healthcare reform, President Donald Trump, Republicans, Democrats
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2017-07-05
Saturday, 05 Aug 2017 12:07 PM
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