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Statement on Alexander-Murray Health Care Deal

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Washington, D.C.– Bipartisan Policy Center Senior Vice President Bill Hoagland and Health Policy Director Katherine Hayes made the following statement today regarding the bipartisan health care deal struck between Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions:

“We applaud the tireless efforts of Sens. Alexander and Murray to reach bipartisan agreement on a near-term insurance market stabilization proposal. Earlier this week, the administration notified insurers that the government will no longer make payments to cover the cost of cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) that insurers must provide to lower-income enrollees. Under the law, insurance companies are required to waive or reduce deductibles and co-pays for lower-income Americans enrolled in the insurance marketplaces. The payments to insurers are designed to cover those costs. Without these payments, health plans will increase premiums for all Americans, including middle-income families whose health insurance premiums have become increasingly unaffordable in some marketplaces. Likewise, many states are working to address the premium increase just two weeks before open enrollment in the marketplace begins on November 1.

We applaud the tireless efforts of Sens. Alexander and Murray to reach bipartisan agreement on a near-term insurance market stabilization proposal… We are encouraged that these leaders have come together to address the real near-term challenges that millions of Americans, and state governments, are facing to access affordable health insurance coverage.

“We are encouraged that these leaders have come together to address the real near-term challenges that millions of Americans, and state governments, are facing to access affordable health insurance coverage. We know this was not an easy compromise. Swift congressional action on this package could help pave the way for broader, fundamental reforms to health care in America. We believe those reforms can and should be made in a bipartisan basis, and our group of 10 is working to reach our own consensus on the parameters of legislation we believe could be advanced with broad, bipartisan support next year.

“Key components of the bipartisan compromise in the Senate include an authorization of funding for the CSR payments through health plans for years 2018 and 2019. In addition, the proposal provides flexibility to states to make health plans more affordable by offering a lower-cost ‘copper plan,’ a ‘catastrophic’ policy designed to help offset costs for those with very high medical expenses. Finally, the proposal would offer additional flexibility requested by states to pursue other options to make health insurance more affordable. These short-term proposals announced today share many similarities with proposals released by our group in September. We hope this compromise will pave the way for longer-term solutions.”

KEYWORDS: BILL HOAGLAND, PATTY MURRAY, LAMAR ALEXANDER, KATHERINE HAYES, SENATE HELP COMMITTEE, FUTURE OF HEALTH CARE INITIATIVE