clear
Wednesday September 20th, 2017 9:36PM

Governors back bipartisan Senate bid to control health costs

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — A group of Republican and Democratic governors became the latest voices Thursday to endorse a bipartisan Senate drive to control health insurance costs, in defiance of President Donald Trump.

Trump has threatened to block federal subsidies to insurers for lowering deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for millions of lower-earning customers, calling them bailouts for insurance companies. Leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee are trying to quickly write legislation that would continue those payments for a year or more. Analysts and the insurance industry say halting the payments would spur new premium increases.

The support from the governors seemed to further isolate Trump on the issue. But with partisan feelings heightened by the failed Republican effort to dismantle former President Barack Obama's health law, the prospects for even a modest effort to shore up the Affordable Care Act are uncertain.

Health panel chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said in a brief interview it was "a good bet" the narrow measure would be limited to extending the payments to insurers and making it easier for states to get exemptions to some of the statute's requirements.

"The more we try to do, the less likely we are to succeed" because of opposition, Alexander said.

In testimony Thursday to the health committee, three Republican and two Democratic governors backed continuing those payments. Most said they should be extended for at least two years.

Gov. Gary Herbert, R-Utah, said abruptly ending those subsidies would "destabilize" his state's markets where individual coverage is sold. Gov. Steve Bullock, D-Mont., said extending the payments for at least two years would be "the most important step" lawmakers could take to curb premiums and keep insurers from abandoning some markets.

The governors also backed more state flexibility to decide coverage requirements and federal aid to help insurers afford high-cost customers with serious conditions.

Alexander and the committee's top Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, are aiming their work at the individual insurance market, where 18 million people who don't get coverage at work or through government programs purchase policies. Those markets are expected to see premium increases averaging at least 25 percent next year.

Their work comes as Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., seek support for a long-shot GOP attempt to roll back much of Obama's law. Their proposal would turn much of the money spent under Obama's overhaul into block grants that states could use with wide latitude, cut Medicaid and end Obama's penalty on people who don't purchase coverage.

The measure has drawn support from Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, Cassidy said. But the GOP effort to repeal Obama's law loses its protection against Democratic filibusters on Oct. 1, meaning Republicans would need 60 votes to prevail — including an unattainable eight Democrats. Even with that protection, GOP leaders have fallen short of the 50 votes they've needed to win and would likely do so again.

Even Republicans expressed little optimism for the Cassidy-Graham effort.

"We'll consider it, but as we saw, this isn't easy" to get 50 votes, said No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas. "And everybody's kind of got another idea. But I'm open to it."

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Financial Services, AP Business - Personal Finance
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Royal school run: Prince George's first day 'a success'
Prince George went to school for the first time Thursday, but it was a rite of passage missed by his mother, who is struggling with acute morning sickness in the early stages of her third pregnancy
10:35AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Race car driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. is ABC's new 'Bachelor'
ABC has announced racecar driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. as its next "Bachelor."
10:23AM ( 32 minutes ago )
Tom Ford launches Fashion Week with sequins, celebs galore
Tom Ford launched Fashion Week with a slew of celebrities and a glamorous '90s vibe; Whoopi Goldberg presented an award to designer Thom Browne
10:19AM ( 37 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Ex-Trump strategist: White House aides must defend president
President Donald Trump's ex-strategist is blasting White House aides who publicly distanced themselves from the president's response to Charlottesville _ yet stick it out in the West Wing
10:09AM ( 47 minutes ago )
British government facing battle to pass key Brexit bill
With 18 months until Britain is due to leave the European Union, the government warned U.K. lawmakers on Thursday that it would be "reckless" to oppose a key piece of Brexit legislation
10:06AM ( 49 minutes ago )
Australian court dismisses challenge to gay marriage survey
Australia's highest court has cleared the way for the government to conduct a public survey on whether gay marriage should be legalized
10:00AM ( 56 minutes ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: EU says Britain has to meet budget commitments
The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has insisted that Britain should meet all the budget commitments it has made to the bloc.
7:51AM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: GOP congressman lauds Trump for debt-limit deal
A Republican House member says he has no problem with President Donald Trump making a deal with Democratic leaders of Congress to arrange a short-term extension of the debt limit.
7:32AM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: EU voices concern over UK's stance on Ireland
The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says Britain's stance on issues relating to Ireland is worrisome and that a solution to the border issue will require a "unique" solution.
7:25AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Pregnant Kate misses Prince George's 1st day at school
Prince George went to school for the first time Thursday, but it was a rite of passage missed by his mother, who is struggling with acute morning sickness in the early stages of her third pregnancy
8:35AM ( 2 hours ago )
Science Says: How repeated head blows affect the brain
Science Says: How repeated head blows affect the brain
7:48AM ( 3 hours ago )
Kentucky abortion clinic's future at stake in federal trial
Future of Kentucky's last abortion clinic is at stake as federal trial opens in lawsuit stemming from the state's attempts to revoke the facility's license
7:12PM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Health
ECB readies to outline stimulus future, possibly in October
The European Central Bank will assess its monetary stimulus measures in the coming weeks, its president Mario Draghi said Thursday, in a statement that's stoked speculation in the markets that the bank will soon rein in its stimulus program.
9:26AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Exclusive: Most Florida flood zone property not insured
With Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida, an Associated Press analysis shows that the number of federal flood insurance policies written in the state has fallen by 15 percent
9:13AM ( 1 hour ago )
France's Macron calls for efforts to tackle climate change
France's Macron calls for effort to tackle climate change as he kicks off official visit to Greece
8:59AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Royal school run: Prince George's first day 'a success'
Prince George went to school for the first time Thursday, but it was a rite of passage missed by his mother, who is struggling with acute morning sickness in the early stages of her third pregnancy
10:35AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Race car driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. is ABC's new 'Bachelor'
ABC has announced racecar driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. as its next "Bachelor."
10:23AM ( 33 minutes ago )
Tom Ford launches Fashion Week with sequins, celebs galore
Tom Ford launched Fashion Week with a slew of celebrities and a glamorous '90s vibe; Whoopi Goldberg presented an award to designer Thom Browne
10:19AM ( 37 minutes ago )
Rethinking high school: an all-star TV special to air Friday
Rethinking high school: an all-star TV special with Cate Blanchett and Justin Timberlake to air Friday
10:16AM ( 40 minutes ago )
Ex-Trump strategist: White House aides must defend president
President Donald Trump's ex-strategist is blasting White House aides who publicly distanced themselves from the president's response to Charlottesville _ yet stick it out in the West Wing
10:09AM ( 47 minutes ago )