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September 13, 2017

Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced his “Medicare for All” legislation today. Noting “a pivotal moment in American history,” Sanders explained his rationale to extend Medicare to everyone in a New York Times op-ed (it’s what Joel K. is reading, below). In addition to Sanders, the legislation has already enlisted 16 cosponsors.

The Council adamantly opposes the creation of a single-payer regime, and our guard is up on these efforts. California and New York are following Colorado’s failed attempt to pass single-payer at the state level, and legislation in the House of Representatives enjoys the support of over half of the House Democratic caucus. These are worrisome developments, and the increased volume on single-payer is setting off alarms on what Democratic priorities could represent following seven years of failed ACA repeal efforts.

Meanwhile, Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham released today what is widely believed to be the Senate’s last effort to repeal and replace the ACA under the reconciliation process (requiring only a simple majority vote to get legislation through the Senate). The legislation would block grant ACA funding to the states and would allow significant flexibility for states to adjust ACA regulations.

With respect to The Council’s core issues, the latest bill includes the following:

  • No mention of the employer-sponsored coverage tax benefit
  • No mention of the Cadillac Tax
  • Elimination of the individual and employer mandates by zeroing out the penalties

Click here for a detailed memo produced by our legal team at Steptoe & Johnson. (login required)

Senate HELP Committee Continues to See Consensus

The best news this week is the noise coming out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) are conducting bipartisan hearings on measures that could stabilize the individual markets.

The level of cooperation so far on considering those measures is remarkable, considering the partisan gridlock that’s dictated ACA issues for years. Consensus so far seems to be around establishing a government reinsurance program, making permanent the cost-sharing reduction payments and easing rules around state innovation 1332 waivers.

The Council Government Affairs team will continue to monitor this and other bills relating to market stabilization.

Joel Wood, SVP, Government Affairs
The Single-Payer Siren Song
The Wall Street Journal

Joel Kopperud, VP, Government Affairs
Bernie Sanders: Why We Need Medicare for All
The New York Times

Mike Kanick, Digital Strategist
The Effect of Medicaid Expansion on the Uninsured