In­surer move called pos­si­ble

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Adam Beam

FANCY FARM, KY.» A week af­ter an at­tempt to re­peal the Af­ford­able Care Act failed, Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Mccon­nell says he’d con­sider a bi­par­ti­san ef­fort to con­tinue pay­ments to in­sur­ers to avert a costly rat­tling of health in­sur­ance mar­kets.

Mccon­nell told re­porters Satur­day there is “still a chance” the Se­nate could re­vive the mea­sure to re­peal and re­place “Oba­macare,” but he ac­knowl­edged the win­dow for that is rapidly clos­ing.

The Ken­tucky sen­a­tor noted Repub­li­can Sen. La­mar Alexan­der of Ten­nessee is work­ing on “some kind of bi­par­ti­san ap­proach” that would in­volve sub­si­dies for in­sur­ance com­pa­nies.

Alexan­der re­cently said he will work with the com­mit­tee’s top Demo­crat, Sen. Patty Mur­ray of Wash­ing­ton state, on a bill next month that would pay in­sur­ers through 2018. In ex­change, Alexan­der wants Democrats to agree to make it eas­ier for states to choose their own health cov­er­age stan­dards that in­sur­ers must pro­vide rather than abid­ing by for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s law.

“If the Democrats are will­ing to sup­port some real re­forms rather than just an in­sur­ance com­pany bailout, I would be will­ing to take a look at it,” Mccon­nell said, hours be­fore he was ex­pected to speak at the fa­mously rau­cous Fancy Farm pic­nic in western Ken­tucky.

Satur­day marked Mccon­nell’s first ap­pear­ance in Ken­tucky since the failed health care vote, and he sought to re­as­sure dis­ap­pointed con­ser­va­tive vot­ers who, since 2008, have elected a wave of Repub­li­can law­mak­ers at the state and fed­eral level based on the prom­ise of get­ting rid of “Oba­macare.” Their ef­forts came up one vote short on July 28 in the Se­nate, where Mccon­nell con­trols the agenda.

Mccon­nell spoke Satur­day af­ter­noon at Fancy Farm, a rowdy po­lit­i­cal tra­di­tion where law­mak­ers from both par­ties give speeches be­fore hun­dreds of heck­lers. Mccon­nell did not men­tion health care dur­ing his roughly fiveminute speech, in­stead fo­cus­ing on his suc­cess­ful ef­fort to block Obama from fill­ing a va­cancy on the Supreme Court in the fi­nal year of his term.

A few hours be­fore his speech, Mccon­nell told a lo­cal gath­er­ing of Repub­li­cans that he chooses “not to dwell on sit­u­a­tions where we come up a lit­tle bit short.” He said he con­soles him­self by re­mem­ber­ing that “Hil­lary Clin­ton could be pres­i­dent.”

“Al­most in­stantly, I feel bet­ter,” he said.

Ken­tucky Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing Mccon­nell and Gov. Matt Bevin, have openly cam­paigned for elim­i­nat­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act, which ex­panded the state’s Med­i­caid pro­gram and brought health in­sur­ance to nearly half a mil­lion peo­ple.

De­spite that, vot­ers have over­whelm­ingly sup­ported Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing in ar­eas where the Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion is the most preva­lent.

Democrats be­lieve the Repub­li­can at­tempt to elim­i­nate that ex­pan­sion is fi­nally get­ting the at­ten­tion of vot­ers who de­pend on the law for their health cov­er­age.

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