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Senate chairman says bipartisan health care package coming Thursday

Senate chairman says bipartisan health care package coming Thursday
© Stefani Reynolds

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderAuthorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate The Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (R-Tenn.) says he plans to release a draft of a bipartisan package of bills to lower health care costs on Thursday.

Alexander has been working on the package with Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayPublic option fades with little outcry from progressives Senate GOP blocks bill to combat gender pay gap OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden suspends Arctic oil leases issued under Trump |  Experts warn US needs to better prepare for hurricane season | Progressives set sights on Civilian Climate Corps MORE (Wash.), the panel’s top Democrat, as the pair try to find areas of agreement where both parties can take action on health care.

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After the failure of the Alexander-Murray bill to shore up ObamaCare last year, the new package is steering clear of the controversial health care law to focus on other areas where Alexander thinks there is more of a chance of passing bipartisan legislation.

Those areas include protecting patients from getting massive “surprise” medical bills when they get care from a doctor outside of their insurance network during emergencies. Alexander said Tuesday the package would address discounts that drug companies give on their drugs, known as rebates, and “transparency.”

Our goal is to release on Thursday a bipartisan discussion draft for senators and stakeholders to review,” Alexander told reporters. “There could be as many as two dozen proposals in it, including surprise billing, rebates and a whole variety of areas that focus on transparency.”

Alexander said if a proposal is not bipartisan, it will not make it into the package.

“Senator Murray and I have been working very well together on it,” he said.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck Grassley 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision On The Money: Yellen, Powell brush off inflation fears | Fed keeps rates steady, upgrades growth projections MORE (R-Iowa) and top Democrat Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats seek new ways to expand Medicaid in holdout states Democrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination Lawmakers rally around cyber legislation following string of attacks MORE (Ore.) are working on their own bipartisan health care package, aimed at lowering drug prices.

Alexander suggested the two packages could be combined and reach the Senate floor in July.

“Sen. Grassley and Sen. Wyden in the Finance Committee have been working in a parallel way, so it's possible both bills could be considered in committee in late June and then given to Sen. [Mitch] McConnell for floor action in July,” Alexander said, referring to the Senate majority leader, a Republican from Kentucky.