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 AlexanderDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline 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 MurrayPelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive House approves two child care bills aimed at pandemic GOP, Democratic relief packages B apart on vaccine funding 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 GrassleySenate leaves until September without coronavirus relief deal COVID-19 relief talks look dead until September  The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The choice: Biden-Harris vs. Trump-Pence MORE (R-Iowa) and top Democrat Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenElection security advocates see strong ally in Harris OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog report raises new questions for top Interior lawyer | Senate Democrats ask Trump to withdraw controversial public lands nominee | Border wall water use threatens endangered species, environmentalists say Watchdog report raises new questions for top Interior lawyer 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.