Report: Senate committee close to bipartisan deal on Obamacare market

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During the past two weeks, a panel of leaders from the Senate Health Committee has held four hearings in an effort to come up with a bipartisan package deal to stabilize the health insurance markets for a floundering Obamacare.

Thursday, Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) stated they hope to have the proposal completed sometime during the week of Sept. 18, with the expectation that it will be passed by the full Senate by the end of September.

Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are reportedly working together to craft the proposal.

During the hearings, the panel heard from governors, insurance commissions and other experts. Thursday, during the final hearing, Alexander outlined the following suggestions that are expected to be major factors in the proposal:

  • Funding cost-sharing reduction payments, which insurers receive from the federal government as payment for lowering the out-of-pocket costs of some Obamacare enrollees.
  • Allowing people of all ages to purchase “copper plans,” described as catastrophic coverage only, with high deductibles and lower premiums.
  • Allowing states more flexibility to approve health insurance plans and rates.

A fast-track provision Republicans were using in an effort to gut Obamacare expires at the end of the September, but four GOP senators are making one last effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, using a “reconciliation” budget maneuver, which lets them bypass a potential Democratic filibuster.

The four senators, Bill Cassidy (La.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Dean Heller (Nev.) released their latest Obamacare repeal bill Wednesday, which seeks to give control to the states, moving funds for Medicaid expansion, tax credits and cost-sharing reduction payments into block grants to the states.

Cassidy told reporters Friday that he felt they were close to getting enough votes to pass the bill.

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