Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray plan a series of hearings aimed at crafting bipartisan legislation to shore up Obamacare markets by mid-September, in the wake of the GOP’s failed repeal efforts.
The pair said this afternoon that the Senate HELP Committee will hold sessions beginning the week of Sept. 4, in a bid to “stabilize and strengthen” the individual health insurance markets.
Alexander, the chairman of the committee, emphasized that the work will be bipartisan and that the hearings will feature a range of health policy experts, including state insurance commissioners, patients and insurance industry representatives.
He added that he’s urged President Donald Trump to continue paying for Obamacare’s cost-sharing subsidies through September, to give Congress time to craft a stabilization plan that would include one year of funding for the payments.
“Without payment of these cost-sharing reductions, Americans will be hurt,” Alexander said, adding that any bipartisan stabilization legislation would need to be narrow and also include greater flexibility for states.
Alexander and Murray — who serves as the committee’s ranking Democrat — also committed to including senators outside the HELP panel in its work.
The effort comes as the GOP tries to move on from its failed attempts at dismantling Obamacare — and despite Trump’s insistence that Senate Republicans take another shot at repeal.
Trump has taunted GOP senators on Twitter and threatened to end cost-sharing subsidy funding, in a move that could drive up premiums and potentially prompt insurers to flee the market altogether. He’s also suggested ending the federal contributions that lawmakers receive to help pay for their own health care.
But top Senate Republicans are ignoring Trump, saying this week that they’re done trying to tear down Obamacare.