Politics

Senate Committee Announces Bipartisan Health Care Hearing

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is slated to hold a bipartisan health care hearing the week they return from recess to discuss how to best stabilize the individual insurance market, Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray announced Tuesday.

The committee is hoping to craft bipartisan legislation ahead of insurers Sept. 27 deadline to finalize premium rates. Alexander argued the committee needs to take action due to the extensive problems in the health-care industry, adding that he has encouraged President Donald Trump to continue funding cost sharing reductions to help curb destabilization in the marketplace.

Cost-sharing reductions are subsidies on deductibles provided to low income consumers.

“We’re talking about the roughly 18 million Americans in the individual market—about 11 million of them who buy their insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchanges,” he said in a statement. “About 9 million of those 11 million Americans have Affordable Care Act subsidies, and unless we act, many of them may not have policies available to buy in 2018 because insurance companies will pull out of collapsing markets.”

The hearings follow Republican leadership in the upper chamber failing to get the 50 votes needed to pass a scaled back Obamacare repeal bill Friday.

Critics of the process the Senate Republicans used during their Obamacare repeal efforts praised the bipartisan attempt, saying it’s how the Senate should have proceeded from the start.

“I’m very happy that the HELP Committee will be holding bipartisan hearings to look at how we can stabilize the insurance markets to produce what I hope would be a series of bills to fix the flaws of the Affordable Care Act,” Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, one of the three GOP senators who voted against the motion to proceed “skinny repeal,” told reporters. “This is the approach we should have taken from the beginning, and under the leadership of Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, we can make some real progress. So I’m very much looking forward to participating fully in that effort.”

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