Republican senator says bipartisan deal reached to stabilize Obamacare

WASHINGTON, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Two U.S. senators on Tuesday announced a bipartisan breakthrough to shore up Obamacare, an agreement that would revive federal subsidies for health insurers, and President Donald Trump voiced support for the deal.

The agreement worked out by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander and Democratic Senator Patty Murray would meet some Democratic objectives, including a revival of the subsidies for Obamacare and restoring $106 million in funding for a federal program that helps people enroll in insurance plans.

SEE ALSO: California's hepatitis A outbreak shows why people need easy access to health care 

In exchange, Republicans would get more flexibility for states to offer a wider variety of health insurance plans while maintaining the requirement that sick and healthy people be charged the same rates for coverage.

The Trump administration announced last week it would stop paying billions of dollars to insurers to help low-income Americans pay out-of-pocket medical expenses, part of the Republican president's effort to dismantle Obamacare, Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.

Trump, who campaigned for president last year on a pledge to repeal Obamacare, has repeatedly criticized the 2010 law, the Affordable Care Act.

But, speaking to reporters at the White House on Tuesday, Trump suggested he could get behind the plan for a short-term fix that Alexander and Murray had settled on.

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President Trump hosts news conference in Rose Garden
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President Trump hosts news conference in Rose Garden
US President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, October 16, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talk to reporters in the Rose Garden following a lunch meeting at the White House October 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump and McConnell tried to erase reporting that they were not on the same page with the GOP legislative agenda and priorities. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talk to reporters in the Rose Garden following a lunch meeting at the White House October 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump and McConnell tried to erase reporting that they were not on the same page with the GOP legislative agenda and priorities. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talk to reporters in the Rose Garden following a lunch meeting at the White House October 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump and McConnell tried to erase reporting that they were not on the same page with the GOP legislative agenda and priorities. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talk to reporters in the Rose Garden following a lunch meeting at the White House October 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump and McConnell tried to erase reporting that they were not on the same page with the GOP legislative agenda and priorities. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talk to reporters in the Rose Garden following a lunch meeting at the White House October 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump and McConnell tried to erase reporting that they were not on the same page with the GOP legislative agenda and priorities. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Rose Garden during a news conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) following a lunch meeting at the White House October 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump and McConnell tried to erase reporting that they were not on the same page with the GOP legislative agenda and priorities. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, speaks as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, listens during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. Trump and McConnell appeared to give themselves some breathing room on their goal of completing a tax overhaul before year's end in remarks that emphasized the difficulty of passing major legislation. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walk into the Rose Garden to talk to reporters following a lunch meeting at the White House October 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump and McConnell tried to erase reporting that they were not on the same page with the GOP legislative agenda and priorities. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump leaves after speaking to the press in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, October 16, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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He said it would help get Obamacare through a "very dangerous little period." But he also said he was still committed to a broader overhaul of the program.

"The solution will be for about a year or two years," Trump said at a joint news conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Shares of U.S. hospital operators, including Tenet Healthcare Corp and HCA Healthcare Inc, moved higher after news of the deal. Tenet shares were last up 4 percent, while HCA was 2.3 percent higher. Shares of some U.S. health insurers also extended their gains on the day, with Anthem Inc last up 2.5 percent and Centene Corp rising 2.8 percent.

 

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