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 AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - How will Trump be received in Dayton and El Paso? McConnell faces pressure to bring Senate back for gun legislation Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid 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 MurrayOvernight Health Care: Planned Parenthood to leave federal family planning program absent court action | Democrats demand Trump withdraw rule on transgender health | Cummings, Sanders investigate three drug companies for 'obstructing' probe Democrats demand Trump officials withdraw rule on transgender health The Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate 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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces White House denies exploring payroll tax cut to offset worsening economy Schumer joins Pelosi in opposition to post-Brexit trade deal that risks Northern Ireland accord MORE (R-Iowa) and top Democrat Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWyden blasts FEC Republicans for blocking probe into NRA over possible Russia donations Wyden calls for end to political ad targeting on Facebook, Google Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity 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.