KHN Morning Briefing

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Senators To Hold Bipartisan Hearings To Try To Protect Insurer Subsidies Threatened By Trump

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold sessions beginning the week of Sept. 4, in a bid to “stabilize and strengthen” the individual health insurance markets.

The Associated Press: GOP Shows Signs Of Reaching Out To Democrats On Health Care
Republicans showed signs Tuesday of reaching out to Democrats for a joint if modest effort to buttress health insurance markets, four days after the GOP effort to unilaterally uproot and reshape the Obama health care law crumpled in the Senate. The Republican chairman of the Senate health committee, Tennessee's Lamar Alexander, said he'd seek bipartisan legislation extending for one year federal payments to insurers that help millions of low- and moderate-income Americans afford coverage. (Fram, 8/1)

The New York Times: Republicans In Congress Bypass Trump To Shore Up Health Law
In the House, two Republicans, Representatives Tom Reed of New York and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, teamed with Democrats to promote incremental health legislation that would also fund the cost-sharing subsidies. The moves were a remarkable response to the president’s repeated threats to send health insurance markets into a tailspin. They offered tangible indications of cooperation between the parties after Republican efforts to scrap the Affordable Care Act collapsed in the Senate last week, all but ending the seven-year Republican quest to overturn President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. Lawmakers from both parties concede that the health law needs improvement, as consumers face sharp premium increases and a shrinking number of insurance options in many states. (Pear and Kaplan, 8/1)

NPR: Lawmakers To Hold Hearings To Stabilize Insurance Markets
The next cost-sharing payments are due to be paid in a few weeks and the president has said he'll announce this week whether he'll pay the money or keep it in the Treasury. "In the absence of the CSR, the rate increases could be astonishing," says Dr. Marc Harrison, CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, which operates nonprofit hospitals and clinics and insures more than 800,000 people across Utah. (Kodjak, 8/1)

USA Today: With Obamacare Repeal Stalled, Senate Panel To Focus On Stabilizing Insurance Market
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which he chairs, will hold hearings starting Sept. 4 “so that Americans will be able to buy affordable health insurance.” "If your house is on fire, you want to put out the fire, and the fire in this case is the individual health insurance market," Alexander said. (Gaudiano and Collins, 8/1)

Politico: Alexander, Murray Plan Bipartisan Hearings To Shore Up Obamacare
Alexander, the chairman of the committee, emphasized that the work will be bipartisan and that the hearings will feature a range of health policy experts, including state insurance commissioners, patients and insurance industry representatives. He added that he’s urged President Donald Trump to continue paying for Obamacare’s cost-sharing subsidies through September, to give Congress time to craft a stabilization plan that would include one year of funding for the payments. (Cancryn, 8/1)

CQ Roll Call: Alexander Outlines Plan For Smaller Bipartisan Health Bill
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the HELP Committee, said she looked forward to bipartisan committee hearings, which will begin the week of Sept. 4. “I really appreciate your work with me on this and your commitment to getting a result for our constituents, particularly when it comes to making sure cost-sharing subsidies don’t get cut off and premiums don’t spike for patients and families,” Murray said. (McIntire, 8/1)

The Hill: GOP Chairman Opens Door To Democrats On ObamaCare
The hearings will give Democrats — particularly Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the committee’s ranking member — a seat at the negotiating table on healthcare for the first time, opening up a process that, to this point, has been tightly controlled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). (Roubein, 8//1)

Los Angeles Times: As Trump Mulls Cutting Off Obamacare Aid, Senate Begins Bipartisan Approach
Most patient advocates, physician groups, hospitals and even many health insurers have been saying for months that targeted fixes to insurance marketplaces make more sense than the kind of far-reaching overhaul of government health programs that Republicans had been pushing. The marketplaces, though a pillar of Obamacare, represent a small part of the U.S. healthcare system with just about 10 million people getting coverage there. But rate hikes and the decision by many insurers to exit markets amid the current political uncertainty in Washington has threatened consumers’ access to health plans. (Levey and Lauter, 8/1)

Bloomberg: Senate Republicans Seek To Move Past GOP-Only Health Debate
Top Senate Republicans are trying to move on from their partisan drive to replace Obamacare despite urging from President Donald Trump to keep seeking a broad alternative to President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. The Senate health committee will begin bipartisan hearings in early September on stabilizing and strengthening the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance market, Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and ranking Democrat Patty Murray of Washington said in a joint statement Tuesday. (Litvan and Edney, 8/1)

Kaiser Health News: Podcast: ‘What The Health?’ Now What?
Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Joanne Kenen of Politico, Sarah Kliff of Vox.com and Mary Agnes Carey of Kaiser Health News discuss what happens now, in the wake of the apparent demise of the Republican-only repeal and replace efforts for the Affordable Care Act. (8/1)

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