After recess, Congress returns to bipartisan health care reform hearings; several proposals expected to be released

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held bipartisan hearings the first two weeks of September to address market stabilization for 2018. They heard perspectives from state insurance commissioners and governors, as well as other industry stakeholders. The testimony largely focused on the need to stabilize the individual marketplace and measures to accomplish that, as well as urging action on cost sharing reductions.

What’s next?

The committee chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander, has indicated that he will be introducing a bipartisan package of legislation soon resulting from the committee hearings. Additionally, Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham are discussing a block grant proposal that would send funding to states, while repealing certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act, such as the individual and employer mandates, and many ACA taxes. Several other groups are considering legislative solutions, such as the House Problem Solvers Caucus, which includes Michigan Rep. Fred Upton. Sen. Bernie Sanders has also reintroduced a single-payer proposal.

What’s happening with the Better Care Reconciliation Act?

The Senate Parliamentarian ruled that the 2017 budget reconciliation bill will expire September 30. New reconciliation instructions are expected in the budget resolution for fiscal year 2018. The reconciliation process requires a simple majority to pass legislation related to the budget, rather than a 60-vote threshold.

We’ll continue to monitor events and activities about health care reform and keep you informed of any important developments.