Bipartisan plan to curb health premiums gets strong support

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., speaks to reporters as he heads to vote on budget amendments, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) - A bipartisan proposal to calm churning health insurance markets gained momentum Thursday when enough lawmakers rallied behind it to give it potentially unstoppable Senate support. But its fate remained unclear as some Republicans sought changes that could threaten Democratic backing.

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington said their plan had 24 sponsors, divided evenly between both parties, for resuming federal subsidies to insurers. Trump has blocked the money and without it, insurers are already raising premiums for many buying individual coverage and could flee unprofitable markets.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said all 48 Democrats - including two independents who support them - would back the measure in a vote. That meant that combined with the dozen GOP sponsors there would be 60 votes for the plan, the number needed to overcome a filibuster, a delaying tactic meant to kill legislation.

"Every