By Michael Hernandez
A pair of senators reached a tentative bipartisan agreement Tuesday to extend Obamacare insurer subsidy payments -- days after President Donald Trump announced he was ending them.
"Right now patients and families across our country are looking at the harmful steps President Trump has taken to sabotage health care in our country," Senator Patty Murray told reporters. "They are realizing if the president is allowed to continue down the path he is headed on they are the ones who are going to pay the price."
Murray and her Republican counterpart, Lamar Alexander, are working out the final details of the agreement, she said, as she stressed she is optimistic a final agreement will be announced soon.
Murray and Alexander had been working on an agreement to stabilize insurance markets that gained traction after Trump ended subsidy payments to insurers last week. The payments, known as cost-sharing reductions, help off-set health care costs for lower-income Americans.
Republicans are reportedly seeking flexibility for states as to how they choose to implement the health care law, including dodging some coverage requirements.
Speaking to reporters in the Rose Garden, Trump called the agreement "a short-term deal" that would last for one or two years.
"It will get us over this intermediate hump," Trump said after earlier declaring the Affordable Care Act "a disgrace to our nation".
Even if Murray and Alexander are able to put the final touches on their prospective accord, there is no certainty the bill will make it through Congress.
In particular, opposition in the House may prove insurmountable with Speaker Paul Ryan at the shaky helm of a fractured Republican caucus that has been difficult to unite in the past. And in the Senate, the measure would have to gain the support of at least 60 senators to ensure an obstruction-proof majority.