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Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets
By Jessie Hellmann

The Republican and Democratic heads of the Senate Health Committee are looking to cobble together a bipartisan ObamaCare deal, after the GOP’s latest failure to repeal the law.

Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are zeroing in on a deal aimed at stabilizing ObamaCare’s markets, which could come in days.

Lobbyists have told The Hill the bill could potentially include two years of funding for ObamaCare’s insurer subsidies and an expansion of state waivers. It could also allow ObamaCare enrollees to buy “copper plans,” which are cheaper, less generous insurance plans that currently only people under age 30 can buy.

However, it’s still unclear if the deal could pass the full Senate or the House.

Conservatives have called the proposal a “bail out” for insurance companies.

“It would be a serious mistake to bail out insurance companies, rather than provide relief to the millions of Americans who are hurting under Obamacare,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a statement Friday.

All eyes will also be on President Trump, who has also said he might soon sign an executive order allowing insurance to be sold across state lines.

Meanwhile, the spotlight will be on Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who is taking heat over his use of private jets for official business.

On Wednesday, President Trump refused to rule out firing Price and said he was “not happy” about the flights.

Price apologized Thursday and said he would reimburse taxpayers for the flights. But the $52,000 he is paying is only part of the estimated $400,000 in costs for his trips.

His flights have also drawn the interest of Congress, with the House Oversight Committee vowing to investigate the use of private jet travel by Cabinet officials.

Some Democrats have also called for Price to resign and introduced bills banning Cabinet members from using private jets.

Price, however, says he still thinks he has the confidence of President Trump.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee will markup legislation next week on reauthorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). But the mark up is coming days after CHIP funding expires on Sept. 30.

The full House in the coming week will also vote on a 20-week abortion ban. The bill from Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) would make it a crime to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother.

While it’s likely to pass the House, it’s probably doomed in the Senate, where it would need 60 votes to pass, and Republicans only have a 52-seat majority.

Trump has said he would sign the bill, which is a top priority for anti-abortion groups.


Hearings and markups

The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Federal Response to the Opioid Crisis” on Thursday at 10 a.m. in Dirksen 430.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee will mark up a bill extending the federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Wednesday. A time has not been announced.


In case you missed it 

No ObamaCare repeal in GOP budget

Anti-abortion groups fuming over GOP’s failure to defund Planned Parenthood

Graham-Cassidy sponsors vow to press on with health-care reform

Price says he’s working to regain Trump’s trust

Price to pay $52K out of estimated $400K in travel costs

GOP governor to sign bill allowing Medicaid coverage for abortions

Price’s job seen at risk after Trump slams private jet use

Congress on track to miss two big health deadlines

Senate passes bipartisan Medicare reform bill

GOP health effort on hold indefinitely

Send tips and comments to Jessie Hellmann,; Peter Sullivan,; Rachel Roubein,; and Nathaniel Weixel,

Follow us on Twitter: @thehill@jessiehellmann@PeterSullivan4@rachel_roubein, and @NateWeixel.

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