Skip to main content

GOP Senator Promises Health Care Bill Within 10 Days

GOP Senator Promises Health Care Bill Within 10 Days Promo Image

A Republican senator pledges to present a bipartisan health care bill to Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate within the next 10 days.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee spoke about his plan on Sept. 7 following a Senate Health Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, CNN reports.

The senators are working under a tight deadline, since insurers wishing to participate in Obamacare markets in 2018 have to finalize contracts by Sept. 27.

"I'm going to sit down with [Democratic] Sen. [Patty] Murray and with other senators and come to a conclusion about what I think we can pass," Alexander added, according to CNN. "I want to be able to take to [Republican] Sen. [Mitch] McConnell and [Democratic] Sen. [Chuck] Schumer a consensus proposal within 10 days or so."

Alexander made his comments on the same day that five governors urged the federal government to take action.

Image placeholder title

"It's time for the federal government to work with us, not against us," Colorado's Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper said on Sept. 7. "Without your help it's like climbing one of your Colorado's famous 14,000 foot mountains in winter without a parka or crampons. It can't be done. We need immediate federal action."

One major issue is the need to provide clarity on cost-sharing reduction payments, which are subsidies paid out by the government to insurers to help low-income people access health care. Insurers say the uncertainty over whether these payments will continue has forced them to raise premiums.

"The big part about the cost sharing piece and the uncertainty associated with it is what it does to the behavior of people in the market," said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican. "You're all basically trying to figure out what are the rules of the game and what is the federal government's role going to be in participating."

President Donald Trump has suggested abolishing the payments and said this would make Obamacare "implode," The Hill notes.

Image placeholder title

"It would be irresponsible to allow these markets to collapse," Republican Gov. of Utah Gary Herbert told the Senate Health Committee.

Despite acknowledging that he is "not a fan" of the payments, Herbert suggested continuing them for one or two years because the market "needs predictability."

A separate issue being considered is the Children's Health Insurance Program, which supports 9 million low and middle income children. Federal funding for the program is set to expire at the end of September.

Questions that still require bipartisan agreement are the length of CHIP's reauthorization, whether any additional measures will be attached to it and whether enhanced federal payments introduced under Obamacare should be continued.

Sources: CNN, The Hill / Featured Image: Simon Edelman/U.S. Department of Energy/Flickr / Embedded Images: Pete Souza/Obama White House/Flickr, Emw/Wikimedia Commons

Popular Video