Bipartisan Health Care Reform Is Not Dead


Bipartisan Health Care Reform Is Not Dead

There is still a way forward on bipartisan health care reform.

By No Labels 10/19/2017

The legislation from Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) may be facing some bumps in the road but that doesn’t mean it’s dead.

The Problem Solvers Caucus, whose creation was inspired by No Labels, released the first bipartisan health care reform plan in July. It contained five points but its basic bargain – that the federal government would continue providing cost sharing reduction payments (CSRs) to help subsidize the cost of insurance premiums and co-pays for those who cannot afford it, and states would be given greater flexibility to manage their individual exchanges – is in the Alexander-Murray legislation. Caucus co-chairs Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) are supporting and consulting with the senators on their effort.

President Trump and Republican leaders may have expressed doubt about the bill but bipartisanship can triumph in the end.

One way forward is a method Congress has used time and time again to get things done: attaching bills like this as amendments to other must-pass pieces of legislation.

A great example is another bipartisan victory on health care: The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the legislation in 1997. Republicans were worried about the cost; Democrats were worried it didn’t do enough for children living in poverty. The bill looked doomed to failure and was actually defeated in an initial vote. However, Kennedy and Hatch did not give up. They found a bipartisan compromise that allowed them to attach their bill to the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and be passed that way.

Sen. Alexander predicted Wednesday that his bipartisan fix to the Affordable Care Act could still be approved. “My guess is that it will be a part of discussions” between the president and congressional leaders, Alexander said after talking with President Trump, the Los Angeles Times reported. “And I predict it will pass in some form before the end of the year.”

What will help push passage of this important legislation?

There are many things, including pressure from citizens on their lawmakers to fix health care. (You can contact your senator by clicking here).

Premiums will rise after President Trump issued an executive order cutting off the cost-sharing subsidies, which further puts the impetus on Congress to enact health care reform.

Keep in mind that Congress has several pieces of legislation they must pass by the end of the year — such as approving a budget and raising the debt ceiling – that will need Democratic support to get through. And Democrats may demand a health care fix be attached to one of these measures in order for Republicans to get their votes.

So there are several hurdles facing bipartisan health care reform. But there is also hope.