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FEDERAL | Congressional Committees Work to Stabilize ACA Market

Leadership on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hopes to reach a deal in the coming weeks on a bipartisan bill to stabilize the individual health insurance market. Legislation would require the support of at least 25 senators, a challenge given the reluctance of Republicans to support Obamacare spending in the wake of their failed attempt to repeal the law. While Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and HELP Committee Democrats pushed for longer-term funding of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, the compromise plan is expected to offer two years of CSR payments. In exchange, Republicans pushed to loosen restrictions on 1332 waivers, which allow states to opt out of certain Obamacare requirements. The measure is also likely to include provisions that would allow individuals to purchase catastrophic health care plans.

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee mirrored their colleagues' request and have asked Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX-08) to hold a hearing on the stabilization of the health insurance exchanges. However, House Republicans appear less open to pass a bipartisan measure to stabilize the individual health insurance market than their Senate colleagues.

Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said that he hopes to present draft legislation to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) so that they can work to schedule a vote on the measure during the last week of the month. Lawmakers face a tight timeline to pass legislation as insurers must decide whether to participate in the 2018 marketplace by September 27.