GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee announced Tuesday he and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington reached an agreement on a bipartisan health care bill slated to be released later this week.
Alexander said the legislation aims to prevent premium hikes by giving states more flexibility and extending cost-sharing reductions(CSRs) for two years, allowing the upper chamber ample time to come to a consensus on a long-term solution.
“Sen. Murray and I have agreed on a short-term limited plan to stabilize the individual insurance markets in 2018 and ’19, which in plain English means that we are keeping premiums from rising and lowering premiums in 2019,” he told reporters.
Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota said the measure incorporates language on innovation waivers, which was also included in the Affordable Care Act, in an attempt to allow states room to craft solutions to their individual health care needs.
“It would allow states to come up with their own ideas about how to offer new choices and lower prices,” he told reporters. “We have agreed to streamline using the 1332 waivers by speeding up the application process in a variety of ways, and finally encouraging interstate compact among states.”
Alexander said he is “encouraged” by the support he’s seen on both sides of the table and the administration.
The announcement comes shortly after the White House announced it was ending CSR payments, leaving some in fear the elimination of the subsidies would destabilize the insurance market.
Alexander noted he hasn’t received confirmation from leadership the bill will be brought to the floor.
Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers are their staff slated to be briefed on the measure around 5 p.m. Tuesday.
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