Alexander, Murray Try to Patch ACA; Thune, Rounds Twiddle Thumbs on CHIP

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.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, 2017.09.06.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, 2017.09.06.

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.


12 Responses to Alexander, Murray Try to Patch ACA; Thune, Rounds Twiddle Thumbs on CHIP

  1. Governing by crisis pays. Pays well. The longer the congress critters drag out an issue, a renewal, a revision – the fuller the lobbies fill their campaign war chests.

    This is yet another example of the party of the right-to-birth caring less-to-little about the right-to-life.

  2. The government can’t fix it. The government broke it. The government will continue to break it until they get out of it.

  3. Darin Larson

    OldSarg- it is not that the government can’t fix it. It is because the government (the Republicans in the government to be precise) has refused to fix it and has actively worked to undermine the ACA from court challenges, to refusing to implement it, to taking away funding and discouraging people from signing up. I take Trump at his word that he will continue to undermine the law so you may be correct that “the government will continue to break it until they get out of it.”

  4. Hey, OldSarg, if you can step away from your slogans for a moment and deal with a specific policy, how does getting out of health care makes things better when by every measure it leaves millions more people (including, in this case, nine million children) without affordable health coverage? Does your fix mean leaving nine million children currently on government-supported CHIP to just go without health care? Does it mean leaving millions of people currently buying insurance on the successful individual exchanges to go back to going broke buying totally private health insurance, being priced totally out of coverage, or being denied coverage of any sort because they have a disease, injury, or uterus?

  5. bearcreekbat

    Perhaps the solution that OldSarg hopes for is a return to the days of poor houses for the elderly and a county paid doctor to care for the indigent sick people in the community, all financed by local property taxes.

  6. The Democrats and the Republicans both have you all fooled- The Politicians still have you all believing that we use TABS in figuring out what can and can’t be done-
    1. Government collects money from us in the form of taxes (T)
    2. Government figures out how much it wants to spend and then borrows any additional money it needs (B)
    3. Government spends the money it has collected (S)
    Since none of us learned any differently, most of us accept the idea that taxes and borrowing precede spending – TABS. And because the government has to “find the money” before it can spend in this sequence, everyone wants to know who’s picking up the tab.

    There’s just one catch. The big secret in Washington is that the federal government abandoned TABS back when it dropped the gold standard. Here’s how things really work:
    1. Congress approves the spending and the money gets spent (S)
    2. Government collects some of that money in the form of taxes (T)
    3. If 1 > 2, Treasury allows the difference to be swapped for government bonds (B)
    In other words, the government spends money and then collects some money back as people pay their taxes and buy bonds. Spending precedes taxing and borrowing – STAB. It takes votes and vocal interest groups, not tax revenue, to start the ball rolling.
    If you need proof that STAB is the law of the land, look no further than the Senate’s recent $700-billion defense authorization. Without raising a dime from the rest of us, the Senate quietly approved an $80-billion annual increase, or more than enough money to make 4-year public colleges and universities tuition-free. And just where did the government get the money to do that? It authorized it into existence.

    Whoa, cowboy! Are you telling me that the government can just make money appear out of nowhere, like magic? Absolutely. Congress has special powers: It’s the patent-holder on the U.S. dollar. No one else is legally allowed to create it. This means that Congress can always afford the pony because it can always create the money to pay for it.

  7. The government does not have the expertise to run health care much less the insurance market. They never will. I know the government. The government is a behemoth of incompetence and you can’t change that with “hope”. You and yours are ignored by the government. They don’t care. There is nothing you can do to help yourself so long as the government is trying to run your health care. Republican democrats it doesn’t matter. Those younelect do not run the government, write the rules or enforce the regulations. The people that write the rules, enforce the regulations and spend your money are not medical professionals, academics, accountants or insurance specialists. They are simply people that know better than you how to get through the USAjobs screening and are now in a job with no training plans, a cubicle and the power to ruin your lives. You have lost. You have pressured low brow elected persons to stand up an organization that will destroy what was the worlds leader in innovation, facilities, timely care and service instead of addressing the real problems of those that were misusing Medicare, Medicade and SSDI. You picked the wrong target, shot at the wrong spot and now you are all crying about missing.

  8. bearcreekbat

    Perhaps OldSarg could be a bit more specific when referring to “the government.” Does he mean our elected officials? Or the many people who are hired to do jobs for the public and are paid with tax dollars?

    Simply condemning “the government” seems meaningless unless OldSarg tells us which specific people or group of people he actually fears and hates so vehemently. Otherwise he may as well be referring to “the world,” which would include himself.

  9. W R Old Guy

    Old Sarge I disagree with your take on government run health care. I have been on government run healthcare for 52 years my wife will have been on government run healthcare for 49 years this month. We seldom have any copays for care or prescriptions. We do not get coverage for dental, eyeglasses, or nursing home care nor do most private policies cover these services under health care.

    There has been a few problems over the years but none that were major compared to problems relatives, friends and neighbors ran into with private health care. Medicare uses the least amount of money on overhead costs than any private insurer.

    Do you recall the outcry about preexisting conditions? People were being denied coverage for a condition that was cured years ago?

    I’ll keep my government healthcare, Thanks.

  10. Hey Old Sarge for every failure of the Government I can give you a more spectacular failure of Privatization. We have the most expensive healthcare in the world with the worst results.

  11. Note again how OldSarg forgets the original topic and blurts his prefab barroom attacks. He ignores the facts that WR Old Guy presents: government has been providing health insurance and care pretty effectively in areas where the market failed to provide what Americans need.

    Stabilize the marketplaces. Reauthorize CHIP. Protect Medicaid, Medicare, TriCare, and all the other public health coverage we provide to people whom private insurance can’t or won’t cover.

  12. The ACA needs to be replaced with universal . The ACA is merely holding the insurance companies and hospitals afloat- My flecking insurance company dumped my non addictive painkillers for cheaper addictive hydrocodone. It didn’t solve the problem with paying for deductibles and co-pays .
    Chip will get reauthorized but at a cost- The reason it failed last month is because it was tied to repealing the ACA since the ACA was not repealed CHIPS was not reauthorized. This go around CHIPS is tied to a $10 Billion dollar wall.