While South Dakota’s Congressional delegation thinks and prays, let’s hope some members of Congress keep working to get things done on health care. Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray are pushing through the debris of the latest ACA-repeal failure to resume their effort to stabilize the Affordable Care Act marketplaces:
“What we’re trying to do is not just see whether Sen. Murray and I can agree, but whether the two of us can find a significant number of Democrats and Republicans who can agree on a limited, bipartisan proposal that could actually pass,” said Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Murray, the committee’s top Democrat, also is optimistic about the discussions.
“After all the partisanship we’ve seen from Republicans on health care, I’m glad we’ve been able to restart our conversations about ways to actually make health care work better for families — beginning with steps to help lower premiums — and I’m hopeful we can reach a final agreement soon,” she said.
While negotiations are still ongoing, Alexander and Murray are looking to give states more flexibility in the type of policies that they can approve and to extend for two years the federal cost-sharing payments that enable insurance companies to reduce premiums for lower- and middle-class Americans. President Trump has threatened to stop the payments, which are worth about $7 billion this year.
Extending the federal cost-sharing received almost universal support from state insurance regulators, governors, health care executives and others who testified earlier this month at four hearings before the committee [Michael Collins, “Bipartisan Obamacare Fix Expected This Week,” Tribune New Service via Governing, 2017.10.02].
And while you wouldn’t know it from checking Senator John Thune’s happy Twitter account, he and his layabout colleagues still haven’t restored funding for nine million children’s access to health care via the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Insurance salesman Senator Mike Rounds gave us two tweets about National Coffee Day but nothing about letting CHIP die.
I guess they figure that since states have varying amounts of surplus funds that may last places like California and Pennsylvania for a month or two, there’s no need to act. They’d rather govern by crisis… and have another cup of coffee.