Week ahead: Lawmakers face fallout from Trump's ObamaCare moves

Week ahead: Lawmakers face fallout from Trump's ObamaCare moves
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All eyes are on Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Here are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 EXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights EXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare MORE (D-Wash.), the leaders of the Senate Health Committee who have been working to craft a bipartisan deal to stabilize the insurance markets.

Their efforts grew more urgent late Thursday night when President Trump announced he was halting key payments to insurers.

Before the Senate's weeklong recess, Alexander said he had agreed to fund the payments for two years, but there hasn't been a bipartisan agreement on an overall package.


Known as cost-sharing reduction payments, these funds compensate insurers for discounting the out-of-pocket costs of some lower-income ObamaCare enrollees. The administration has been making the payments on a monthly basis. Meanwhile, insurers have been pleading for certainty that the payments will continue on a long-term basis.

At issue is the fact that insurers still have to offer these discounts. In their premiums, some insurers accounted for the fact the payments might not continue — but not all did. It remains to be seen if rates can be changed and also if insurers will exit the marketplaces.

"Many insurers anticipated that [cost-sharing reduction] payments might end and set their premiums accordingly," Larry Levitt, a Kaiser Family Foundation senior vice president, wrote in an email. "Some insurers were less pessimistic, and some states did not let insurers assume that [cost-sharing reduction] payments would end and hike their premiums. So, the fallout over the next few weeks will vary from state by state."

Open enrollment for people to sign up for plans on HealthCare.gov is looming, beginning Nov. 1.

But it's also unclear if Alexander and Murray can reach a deal that could reach Trump's desk. Democrats are pushing to restore the payments. But conservative lawmakers, including GOP leaders, oppose what they see as a subsidy to insurers.

The fight over Trump's move, though, could drag on. More than 15 states are also suing to stop Trump from halting the payments.

ObamaCare isn't the only big issue on the health care front.

Lawmakers are scrambling after funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), community health centers and a few other health programs expired at the end of September.

The Senate Finance Committee passed a bipartisan five-year extension of CHIP but has yet to release how it will pay for the bill.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a partisan bill to fund CHIP and community health centers. But Democrats slammed the legislation's offsets, which would have cut funds to an ObamaCare public health fund and required older, wealthier Americans to pay higher Medicare premiums. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) agreed Tuesday to delay a vote on the bill, so the parties could renegotiate how to pay for the programs.

However, that effort did not appear to have yielded any changes.

"It's clear that House Republicans want to use reauthorization of children's health insurance and Community Health Centers as a way to further undermine the Affordable Care Act and weaken Medicare," the House Energy and Commerce Committee's ranking member, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J), said in a statement Friday afternoon.


Hearings & events

The Senate is back in session Monday after a weeklong recess. The House is out of session the coming week.

The Senate Health Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 430, on the cost of prescription drugs.

The committee will also hold a hearing titled "Examining How Healthy Choices Can Improve Health Outcomes and Reduce Costs," on Thursday at 10 a.m. in Dirksen room 430.

Axios is holding an event focused on health care Wednesday at 8 a.m. Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyAmerica's newest comedy troupe: House GOP EXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns Republicans grumble over Trump shifting military funds to wall MORE (R-La.) and Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Missouri Republican wins annual craft brewing competition for lawmakers Sen. Kaine: No reason for US to 'engage in military action to protect Saudi oil' MORE (D-Va.) will participate.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will hold an event titled "A Path Forward on Health Reform: Advancing Priorities and Innovative Solutions Amid Uncertainty," Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.


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