Senior Republicans plan to let President Trump know that they expect to move on from healthcare legislation that would repeal and replace portions of Obamacare, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said Monday.
"There's just too much animosity and we're too divided on healthcare," the Utah Republican told Reuters in an interview. He said he had not given up on healthcare, but that it was time to move on to tax reform.
Hatch plans to tell Trump himself, with other congressional leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The news comes shortly after Trump urged senators in tweets he sent over the weekend to continue working at reaching an agreement on healthcare, even though several votes failed last week. The bill that came the closest to passage was dubbed the "skinny repeal," which would have repealed and suspended parts of the law and was primarily intended to be a vehicle to send the bill to conference so that other changes could be made to the legislation. The bill failed, falling one vote short of passage: All Democrats and three GOP senators, John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted not to advance it to conference.
Mick Mulvaney, Trump's budget director, said after the vote Friday that healthcare was still an ongoing discussion and that the Senate should not break for recess until they pass a bill or move on to other bills. Hatch said he understood the position, but didn't think it was right.
Even if Republicans do not turn back to a bill that would repeal portions of Obamacare, many of them have said that they will have to work with Democrats to stabilize Obamacare's health insurance exchanges. The insurers that participate in them are facing uncertainty for next year because they aren't sure whether the Trump administration will fund payments called cost-sharing reduction subsidies or whether the administration will enforce the individual mandate that requires people to buy health insurance or pay a fine. Those questions are resulting in higher requests for premium increases and in insurers vacating counties across the country.One way to offer certainty would be for Congress to appropriate the cost-sharing subsidies, a move Hatch said he would prefer wouldn't occur.
Still, he said, "I think we're going to have to do that" and later added, "I'm for helping the poor, always have been. And I don't think they should be bereft of healthcare." The funds go toward insurance companies and allow them to offer lower out-of-pocket costs to customers.
Democrats have offered other approaches to fixing Obamacare, but Hatch said he didn't see a genuine desire from Democrats to work with Republicans, and added "and I have to say some Republicans are at fault there, too."