Ohio Senators Brown, Portman react to bipartisan healthcare plan

In this Oct. 6, 2015, file photo, the HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (WCMH) — A bipartisan group of senators has signed onto a healthcare plan to stabilize the health insurance markets.

Republican Senator Lamar Alexander and Democratic Senator Patty Murray developed the compromise. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio says it’s about time a bipartisan bill is finally on the table.

 The bipartisan plan makes sense. It’s what a lot of us have asked for all along,” said Brown.

Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio said he’s still looking at the Alexander-Murray plan.

I think it’s not part of the fundamental reform we need to do, but I think it’s something that may be necessary in the short run,” said Portman.

Last week, President Trump said he will end the subsidy payments, called cost-sharing reductions, or CSRs. The payments to insurance companies help reduce the cost of health care for low-income people.

Portman said if the CSR payments stop, insurers expect premiums to go up 34% in Ohio next year.

They’ve said if you continue the CSRs, the cost increase will be 23% — still unacceptably high, but 11% lower. I think it will help,” said Portman.

The Alexander-Murray plan would also give states more flexibility to opt out of certain Obamacare requirements. Portman said flexibility for states is one of his top priority.

If we had more flexibility, we could come up with other creative ways — as Alaska has done and other states — to actually reduce premiums further,” said Portman.

Brown said he wants to see more bipartisanship in the healthcare debate.

We could write a bill that stabilizes the insurance market that gets more young, healthy people into the insurance pool…I’m hopeful that’s what the House and Senate do with this new bill,” said Brown.

Neither senator from Ohio has signed on as a co-sponsor yet, but a bipartisan coalition of twenty-four lawmakers have signed on so far.

If the bill works its way through Congress, it’s not clear if President Trump would sign it into law.

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