Alexander to A.B. Stoddard: Under Alexander-Murray, $3.1 Billion Will Be Rebated to Taxpayers, With Billions More in Rebates to Consumers
Posted on October 31, 2017
“You have Democrats who want it, House Republicans who have already voted for it, and the President asked for it. Sounds like something that might get to be law.”—Lamar Alexander
WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 31 – Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) in a radio interview with A.B. Stoddard said that under his bipartisan legislation with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and 22 Senate cosponsors, $3.1 billion will be rebated to taxpayers, with billions more in rebates to consumers.
At the beginning of the interview on the senator's bipartisan bill, Stoddard said, “This week, we had big news – which is that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office came out with a score that this would cut back on the deficit and leave the amount of uninsured the same. This is actually very good news for the bill. Can you tell us what the score of the bill does for changes of passage?”
Alexander responded, “It helps. What it really said was that it reduces the debt – so that means less taxpayer money for Obamacare subsidies. It also says the benefits of the cost sharing payments – which will be made in 2018 and ‘19 -- would go to consumers state by state and taxpayers – and not to insurance companies, which has been something the president has talked about and that Senator Murray and I agreed on. So, it’s helpful to have an independent outfit – the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office – say that.
Asked by Stoddard, who hosts “No Labels” radio on Sirius XM, about continuing to gather Republican support for the bill, Alexander said, “I feel sure we will because since we introduced it, you had respected conservative leaders like Orrin Hatch, Kevin Brady in the House … Mark Meadows as well, head of the Freedom Caucus, all say, well, we probably do need to pay the cost-sharing payments for two years because if we don’t, the federal debt goes up $194 billion, premiums stay 20 percent higher, and we might create a situation where up to 16 million Americans would live in counties where they couldn’t buy insurance at all. Now, nobody wants that – and they don’t want it. So, that’s considerable movement in the direction of paying these cost-sharing payments.”
Later in the interview, Alexander said, “We have in our bill – the Alexander-Murray bill – a provision that says that every state has to come up with a plan and give it to the federal government to show how in 2018 the cost-sharing payments go to the benefit of consumers. And the Congressional Budget Office acknowledged that yesterday. We save $3.1 billion over ten years that will be rebated to taxpayers, and state by state more would be rebated to consumers. … Almost every House Republican has already voted once this year for temporary cost-sharing payments because it was in the repeal and replace bill that the House passed … So, you have Democrats who want it, House Republicans who’ve already voted for it, and the president asked for it. Sounds like something that might get to be law.”
Alexander continued, “We don’t want to allow chaos to be created when we could have taken steps to avoid it. And we can avoid chaos and we can reduce premiums if we do what Senator Murray and I and 22 senators have suggested. … For example, we have 350,000 people in Tennessee who buy insurance in the individual market. What that means is, there are like 178 million people who have insurance on the job. They could lose their job today, right? And then where would they get insurance? They go into the individual market.
“And if they go there and the premiums – as they have in Tennessee, they’ve gone up 176 percent in the last four years, another 36 percent this year, or it might not even be available – they’re going to be terrified by that. We need to stop that prospect of chaos, and we can do it with this bill. It’s a limited bill. It’s not repeal and replace. It doesn’t end all of the argument about health care, but it does what it needs to do.”