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Paul Ryan pours cold water on Senate’s bipartisan Obamacare deal

Suddenly, Alexander-Murray’s odds are dimming.

Paul Ryan Nicholas Kamm / Getty Images
Dylan Scott covers health care for Vox. He has reported on health policy for more than 10 years, writing for Governing magazine, Talking Points Memo and STAT before joining Vox in 2017.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is downplaying the prospects for the bipartisan deal to stabilize Obamacare that a pair of senators unveiled on Tuesday.

The plan, from Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), would fund Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction payments to health insurers through 2019 while providing more state flexibility under the law’s 1332 waiver program and allowing more people to buy catastrophic health coverage, two Republican priorities.

Ryan doesn’t sound impressed.

“The speaker does not see anything that changes his view that the Senate should keep its focus on repeal and replace of Obamacare,” a Ryan spokesperson told Axios.

Ryan’s tepid response comes at the same time that President Trump is undercutting the bill. Although Trump had reportedly offered encouragement to Alexander in a private phone call, he derided the deal in public.

Vox reviewed the deal and its outlook in greater detail. The bottom line: Trump and Republicans in Congress face a choice about whether to approve any affirmative steps to stabilize Obamacare.

The president’s actions have already driven up premiums on the law’s marketplaces. Republicans now have a path toward undoing some of that damage — but their hatred for the law may stop them from taking it.