Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the committee’s ranking member, this week continue negotiating a deal to stabilize the Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance marketplace.
Alexander and Murray’s proposal would fund the cost-sharing reduction program, give states increased flexibility through section 1332 state innovation waivers, and fund reinsurance programs. The senators are working to garner support from House Republicans after the failure last year of ACA repeal efforts. Further hindering stabilization efforts are disagreements between Democrats and Republicans about antiabortion language in the proposal, as well as funding to offset the recent repeal of the individual mandate.
Combating the Opioid Crisis
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce continues to review legislation and hold hearings to mitigate the opioid crisis. Last week, lawmakers held the first in a series of three hearings, deliberating eight law enforcement and patient safety–related bills. The next two hearings in the series will focus on prevention and insurance coverage.
Meanwhile, Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced a new version of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which was passed in 2016. This latest version authorizes $1 billion to support new rules restricting access to opioid painkillers, increased access to addiction treatments, and other efforts to combat the opioid crisis.
The Senate HELP Committee will hold a March 8 hearing about the opioid crisis, focusing on state leadership and innovation.