Senator Murray strikes a tentative deal over Obamacare subsidies | KUOW News and Information

Senator Murray strikes a tentative deal over Obamacare subsidies

Oct 17, 2017

Washington state’s U.S. senators were busy Tuesday.

Senator Patty Murray helped strike a bipartisan deal to avoid President Donald Trump's recently announced cuts to health insurance subsidies. 

Few details were released, but Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said the deal could keep Obamacare stable for at least the next two years.

Murray said the uncertainty triggered by Trump’s action cannot continue. She said the new deal shows what can be done when lawmakers make the effort to talk.

"We'll be able to show patients and families as well as those who are determined to enact Trumpcare that, you know what? When Republicans and Democrats take the time to work together rather than retreating to partisan corners, we truly can get things done," she said.

The deal would extend federal insurance subsidies for low-income families for two years.

Insurers and others say that unless that money is restored quickly, the Affordable Care Act would be put at risk of collapse. Millions could lose health insurance. 

The deal would also give states more freedom to try out their own health insurance ideas.

Trump spoke favorably Tuesday about the pact.

Meanwhile, Washington state’s other U.S. senator was trying to stop a Republican plan to allow oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

In a news conference and later on the Senate floor, Maria Cantwell called the plan a "sneak attack."

Republicans have long sought to drill in the refuge. They added it to their current budget proposal, in part to help pay for tax cuts pushed by Trump.

Cantwell is the top Democrat on the Senate energy committee.

She said the refuge was irreplaceable.

"This is so unique to the United States of America,” she said. “There is a reason that for 40 years we've protected it."