Alexander ready to deal with Democrats on Obamacare

Sen. Lamar Alexander says he’s more than happy to strike deals with Democrats — even on Obamacare. So reports Politico.

“Whoever the president is in January, we’re going to have to take a good, hard look at Obamacare,” the powerful chairman of the Senate HELP committee told POLITICO’s “Pulse Check” podcast. “It can’t continue the way it is.”

“I don’t think Republicans can go another four years, whether we have a Republican president or not, and say just give us a couple more Republicans and we’ll repeal Obamacare,” he added.

Alexander laid out several changes that he’d like to see in health care: Less government “management,” more support of private sector innovation and more flexibility for states on Medicaid. He also credited House Speaker Paul Ryan’s recent white paper that summarized Republican health care proposals as a “helpful” starting point, though he didn’t explicitly endorse the House GOP’s insistence on replacing the whole law

The Republican lawmaker says his own committee’s bipartisan work on the No Child Left Behind education bill created a clear template for finding common ground on health care. That sweeping overhaul of a 14-year-old education law passed with bipartisan support last year. President Barack Obama himself called it a “Christmas miracle.”

“One reason I’ve enjoyed working with Patty Murray, the senior Democrat on the [HELP] Committee is that she’s results-oriented,” Alexander says. “We can focus on the 80 percent we agree with and fight about the 20 percent another day.”

But Obama hasn’t proved to be a good partner on health care, Alexander maintained. He’s hoping that the next president — whoever he or she may be — will be more receptive.

“Hillary Clinton is married to a fellow who made a lot of deals as president,” Alexander said. “And if she shows an aptitude for taking a position, listening to other people and looking for the 80 percent instead of the 20 — or if Mr. Trump does, if he’s the president — then we can improve the health care system.”