KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Disagreement Over State Flexibility Threatens To Send Bipartisan Health Care Efforts Off Rails

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander stressed the need for compromise while top Democrat Patty Murray said none of the experts or governors who had testified in front of the panel had asked for more state flexibility. Media outlets cover other developments from Capitol Hill on the lawmakers' health care efforts.

Modern Healthcare: Bipartisan Effort To Stabilize Insurance Market Hits Snag Over State Flexibility 
The senior Republican and Democrat on the Senate health committee courteously clashed Tuesday over how much freedom Congress should give states to modify the Affordable Care Act's benefit rules in order to make individual coverage more affordable. Most of the senators and expert witnesses speaking in the third of four planned hearings agreed Congress should swiftly fund payments to insurers for the ACA's cost-sharing reductions for lower-income enrollees, though it wasn't clear that Republicans supported insurers' calls for long-term funding. (Meyer, 9/12)

CQ: State Flexibility A Vexing Issue As Senators Pursue Health Deal
Flexibility for state waivers under the 2010 health care law is a sticking point between Democrats and Republicans as a key health panel considers how to shore up the individual insurance marketplace. State flexibility was the main focus of a Tuesday hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the third of four planned meetings focused on stabilizing the individual health insurance market as the upcoming open enrollment period approaches. There appears to be consensus from both parties to make it easier for states to get certain waivers approved. But Democrats say they won’t budge on the health care law’s consumer protections while Republicans are pushing for states to have more sway over such policies. (McIntire, 9/12)

Reuters: Congress Revisits Obamacare, This Time With A Bipartisan Twist
The U.S. Congress was wrestling with healthcare again on Tuesday, as lawmakers from both parties considered some approaches beyond simply repealing and replacing Obamacare. The widened healthcare discussion appeared unlikely to yield dramatic changes soon, but marked a shift from the long-running, Republican effort to gut 2010's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is formally known. (Cornwell, 9/12)

CQ: Senate Finance Debates Cost-Sharing Funds, Drug Prices
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch of Utah emphasized Tuesday that funding health care law subsidies without long-term changes would be a “mistake" — a position at odds with Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, who was holding a separate hearing just two floors above. However, Hatch added, "I want to find a bipartisan path forward through this mess.” Hatch's comments came in a wide-ranging hearing where insurance experts discussed funding the insurance exchanges' consumer subsidies as well as transparency in drug pricing. (Clason, 9/12)

The Hill: GOP Chairman Rips Bipartisan Proposal As 'Bailout' Of ObamaCare 
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Tuesday derided bipartisan efforts to shore up ObamaCare's insurance market as a "bailout." "At this point, it’s pretty clear that the parties will need to work together if any of this is going to improve. That said, I am concerned that many of the proposals for a bipartisan solution would amount to little more than a bailout of the current system," Hatch said in his opening remarks at his committee's health-care hearing Tuesday. (Hellmann, 9/12)

Kaiser Health News: Postcard From The Hill: Senators Shelve Histrionics In Search Of Obamacare Fix
After a summer of flame-throwing over the Affordable Care Act’s repeal, Republicans and Democrats are now engaged in a serious collaborative effort to find a legislative solution that would ward off predicted premium rate hikes this year. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and his colleagues are up against a tight deadline to craft a bill to steady premiums in the Affordable Care Act’s shaky markets. Insurers must nail down plans late this month for the coming enrollment season. (Bluth, 9/12)

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