GOP senator says deal set on payments to health insurers

WASHINGTON (AP) — A key Republican senator said today he's reached a deal with his Democratic counterpart on resuming federal payments to health insurers that President Donald Trump has blocked.

At the White House, the president spoke favorably about the bipartisan pact.

The agreement would involve a two-year extension of federal payments to insurers that Trump halted last week, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Unless the money is quickly restored, insurers and others say that will result in higher premiums for people buying individual policies and in some carriers leaving unprofitable markets.

Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., have been working for weeks on health care legislation, separate from repeated and unsuccessful efforts by GOP leaders to dismantle Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

Emerging from a closed-door GOP luncheon on Tuesday, Alexander said, "Senator [Patty] Murray and I have an agreement," and added that Trump has encouraged them and the "president likes this idea."

While the agreement is a breakthrough, they still need to secure the support of fellow Republicans and Democrats.

In brief comments at the White House, Trump spoke favorably about the effort.

"It is a short-term solution so we don't have this very dangerous little period," the president said.

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