Senate Asks Governors For Advice In How To Fix Health Insurance : Shots - Health News Senators holding hearings this week are looking for quick tweaks that will stabilize the insurance markets and make policies cheaper. Some governors want more federal money and more flexibility.
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Governors Sound Off On How To Fix Health Insurance

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Governors Sound Off On How To Fix Health Insurance

Governors Sound Off On How To Fix Health Insurance

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Congress is still struggling with health care. The Senate's health, education, labor and pensions committee heard from five governors today. The panel plans to hold several hearings to find ways to stabilize the Affordable Care Act's health insurance markets. This is not part of a grand plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. As NPR's Alison Kodjak reports, this time lawmakers are thinking small.

ALISON KODJAK, BYLINE: Senator Lamar Alexander, the Republican chairman of the HELP committee, is trying to get a bill written in 10 days. That's because insurance companies are up against their own deadline. They have to commit to sell policies on the Obamacare marketplaces and set prices by September 27. Alexander was remarkably frank about the challenge he's facing.

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LAMAR ALEXANDER: To get a Republican president, a Republican House and Republican Senate just to vote for more money won't happen in the next two or three weeks unless there's some restructuring.

KODJAK: Then he asked the governors to send him lists of ideas of what that restructuring could be.

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ALEXANDER: This train may move through the station, and this is a chance to change those things. And so if you want to tell us exactly what those are and we got it by the middle of next week, we could use it. And it would help us get it resolved.

KODJAK: All of the governors and most of the senators in the room agreed that the top priority was for Congress to appropriate money for so-called cost-sharing reductions, or CSRs. These reimburse insurance companies for discounts they're required by law to give low-income customers. There is also support for reinsurance programs either through the federal government or the states. These are pools of money to help insurers when they face huge costs from severely ill patients. Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire argued Washington should put up some of that money.

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MAGGIE HASSAN: I'd be making the argument that at least some of the seed money should come from the feds because the feds are going to save money.

KODJAK: Many of the governors also supported Alexander's proposal to give states flexibility to get out of some of Obamacare's regulations and design their own health care systems. Alison Kodjak, NPR News, Washington.

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