Senator calls for stopgap measures for individual markets as Congress awaits CBO report on healthcare reform bill

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The Senate is continuing its discussions on health reform as both chambers of Congress await the Congressional Budget Office's report on the American Health Care Act.

As the Senate continues work on its own version of a healthcare reform bill, one senator is championing quick fixes to the bill as an interim measure for the next couple of years.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has been a loud critic of the Affordable Care Act since its inception, but Roll Call reports he is now calling for short-term measures to stabilize the bill’s individual markets while Republicans in Congress continue to craft the healthcare law’s replacement.

“We might have to do some things and authorize some things in those two years that we wouldn’t do long-term,” he told the publication. “And then in 2020, we would hope to have our long-term solution for the people that don’t have the insurance.”

He said that action for 2018 and 2019 is necessary, and that such measures could serve as a lead-in to larger reforms that are proposed to begin in 2020.

RELATED: Payers weigh participation in ACA exchanges while mired in partisan politics and legal uncertainty

Meanwhile, rifts are forming in the Senate over different elements of healthcare reform, including Medicaid and consumer protections

One area up for discussion is potentially slowing the phase-out of Medicaid expansion, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told The Hill, to draw in senators who may want a moderate approach to Medicaid reform. He added that the Senate has no plans to vote on health reform until they have a strong consensus.

The Senate’s working group on healthcare also met with representatives from Blue Cross Blue Shield Tuesday to get payer input on its version of the reform bill, according to another article from The Hill.

Meanwhile, party members in both chambers of Congress are awaiting the results of the Congressional Budget Office’s score on the American Health Care Act, which is expected later today. The CBO’s previous analysis of the first version of the AHCA estimated that it would cause millions to lose insurance, though it would reduce the federal budget deficit.

The House of Representatives hasn’t sent the bill to the Senate yet as it awaits the CBO report, as the CBO’s findings could force another vote on the bill if it doesn’t meet the requirements for reconciliation. Ahead of the CBO report, the American Action Network, an outside GOP group tied to House Speaker Paul Ryan, launched a $2 million ad campaign to drum up public support for the bill, which has been widely panned by both healthcare industry groups and voters, reports a third article from The Hill.

The ads (one of which is embedded below) are running in districts where GOP members of Congress may be considered vulnerable in the upcoming midterm elections.

 

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