On October 17, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announced a bipartisan proposal intended to stabilize Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces and relax ACA State Innovation Waiver restrictions.
On October 19, Chairman Alexander released the proposed health care bill known as the Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017. The bill would restore the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, which the Trump administration announced last week would no longer be made to insurers. The CSR payments are made to insurers to help offset deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses for ACA exchange health insurance coverage for individuals earning up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level. The bill would streamline the State Innovation Waiver process by shortening the time period for administrative review of waiver applications, by allowing expedited review for emergency situations and for waiver proposals already approved for other states, and by permitting Governors rather than state legislatures to approve state waiver applications. State Innovation Waivers allow states to pursue innovative strategies for providing quality, affordable health insurance to the state’s residents while retaining the basic protections of the ACA. The proposed bill would also require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to increase funding for ACA outreach and enrollment for 2018 and 2019. A section-by-section summary of the bill can be found here.
In addition to releasing the draft bill, Chairman Alexander announced that 22 additional Senators were cosponsoring the Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017. The 22 additional cosponsors include Mike Rounds (R-SD), Lindsey Graham (R-SC.), John McCain (R-AZ), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bob Corker (R-TN), Angus King (I-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Al Franken (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).
On October 22, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring the proposed bipartisan health care bill to the floor for an immediate vote. Senator McConnell replied that he would schedule a floor vote on the legislation if President Trump indicates that he will sign the bill if presented to him.