By Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that prescription drug cost controls and an Obamacare fix are the components Democrats will seek for now in a fast-track domestic policy bill.
"The two things we want to do in reconciliation, that we're going to do in reconciliation, are prescription drugs and a two-year extension of ACA," Schumer told reporters.
"ACA" refers to the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
Democrats are seeking to keep in place increased financial assistance for people who qualify for subsidized health insurance under ACA. The premium relief was offered as part of the American Rescue Plan enacted in 2021, but is set to expire this year, which would result in stark premium increases for millions of people unless Congress acts.
The prescription drug plan would allow Medicare, the government's health plan for senior citizens and the disabled, to negotiate lower prices.
"Reconciliation" refers to an exclusive number of bills that can move through the Senate with a simple majority of support in the 100-member chamber, instead of the 60 votes usually needed.
So far, Schumer has failed to win the backing of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin for a major climate change initiative and tax increases on some corporations as part of such legislation. Without every one of his 50 Democratic caucus members, Schumer does not have the votes to pass bills given solid Republican opposition.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Katharine Jackson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis)