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4. Political Cartoon: ‘Easy On the Eyes?’

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: ‘Easy On the Eyes?’" by Hillary B. Price.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Does the public know
Insurance commissioners
Have much influence?

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law

5. Senators Kick Off Efforts To Find Elusive Compromise On Health Care At Cordial Hearing

“Democrats will have to agree to something — more flexibility for states — that some may be reluctant to support. And Republicans will have to agree to something, additional funding through the Affordable Care Act, that some may be reluctant to support. That is called a compromise," Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander said. State insurance commissioners spoke at the session, urging Congress to continue funding subsidies for insurers.

The New York Times: Work Toward Bipartisan Fix For Health Markets Begins In Senate
The chairman of the Senate health committee said Wednesday that he hoped the panel would reach a consensus by the end of next week on a small, bipartisan bill to stabilize health insurance markets and prevent prices from skyrocketing next year under the Affordable Care Act. “The blame will be on every one of us, and deservedly so,” if senators fail to reach agreement, said the chairman, Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee. (Pear, 9/6)

The Associated Press: GOP, Dem Senators Calmly Discuss Bolstering Obama Health Law
Republicans and Democrats serenely discussed ways to curb premium increases for individual insurance policies on Wednesday at a Senate hearing that veered away from years of fierce partisanship over the failed GOP effort to revoke President Barack Obama's health care law. Senators and state insurance commissioners from both parties embraced the idea of continuing billions in federal subsidies to insurers for reducing out-of-pocket expenses for millions of people, flouting President Donald Trump's oft-repeated threats to halt those payments. (Fram, 9/6)

The Wall Street Journal: Senators Discuss Bipartisan Approach To Repair Obamacare
Mr. Alexander’s proposal, laid out at the beginning of Wednesday’s hearing, would formally authorize subsidy payments to insurers and loosen requirements governing the law’s state waivers. Mr. Alexander hopes to pass legislation with the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, before the end of the month, when insurers must sign contracts to participate in next year’s markets. (Hackman, 9/6)

The Washington Post: A GOP Senate Leader Calls For Bipartisan Compromise On ACA Marketplaces
The set of ideas advocated in a large, crowded hearing room amount to a strategy to slow recent spikes in premium rates by some health plans sold on ACA marketplaces and to expand consumers’ choices given major insurers’ defections from some marketplaces. The ideas track the basic contours of changes being touted by Republicans or Democrats — though not necessarily by both — on the HELP committee. (Goldstein and Eilperin, 9/6)

Politico: Bid To Shore Up Obamacare Faces Time Crunch, Conservative Countereffort
A bipartisan group of senators has palpable momentum but little time to make good on a bid to shore up Obamacare insurance markets, even as conservative Republicans press a parallel attempt to make good on their promise to repeal the health care law. The stabilization effort, led by Republican Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Democrat Patty Murray (Wash.), could yield the first bipartisan Obamacare bill since the law was passed seven years ago. It could also provide some measure of certainty for insurance companies that have until Sept. 27 to make final decisions about whether to participate in Obamacare markets next year. (Haberkorn, Cancryn and Bade, 9/6)

Los Angeles Times: In The Face Of Major Premium Hikes, State Insurance Regulators Urge Congress To Act Quickly
State officials — both Republican and Democratic — urged lawmakers to maintain the federal funding that subsidizes poor customers’ deductibles and co-pays, even as the president continues to threaten to withhold that aid. And they called on Congress to move quickly in the face of mounting warnings from health insurers that without congressional action by the end of September, consumers will face major premium hikes next year. “Uncertainty destabilizes the market,” Lori Wing-Heier, Alaska’s nonpartisan insurance regulator, told senators at the Senate health committee. (Levey, 9/6)

The Hill: Insurance Official To Congress: ObamaCare Not Collapsing 
A Pennsylvania insurance official told Congress Wednesday that ObamaCare is not collapsing, as some Republicans have argued. Speaking at a Senate Health Committee hearing on efforts to stabilize Affordable Care Act (ACA) markets, Teresa Miller, Pennsylvania’s acting Human Services secretary and former insurance commissioner, said that the notion is “just false.” (Sullivan, 9/6)

Kaiser Health News: Insurance Commissioners Say Help Offered By Congress Is Not Enough To Save Market
“Insurers right now are already planning for 2019,” said Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, a former Democratic member of Congress. “In order to give them predictability, you would have to give them more certainty in the market” than a one-year extension. Added Alaska Insurance Commissioner Lori Wing-Heier, “Insurers have to have more than a one-year commitment” to persuade them to stay in the market and not raise premiums high enough to make up for the potentially lost payments from the federal government. (Rovner and Bluth, 9/6)

The Hill: State Officials Plead For Bipartisan ObamaCare Fix 
Health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) wants to find consensus by the end of next week. To sell the fix, he and ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) held a private meeting with senators not on the committee and the witnesses who testified as Wednesday's hearing. “If we can do two things, that would be two more things that we have agreed on in a bipartisan way in the last seven years in health insurance,” Alexander told reporters. (Hellmann, 9/6)

Nashville Tennessean: Despite Trump Threats To End Cost-Sharing, Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Says They Are Critical To Health Care
Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak urged Congress on Wednesday to continue federal cost-sharing payments to insurers, arguing the subsidies are the key to strengthening insurance markets and potentially bringing down costs next year. Appearing before a Senate panel, McPeak insisted the payments should not be seen as an “insurer bailout.” To the contrary, she said, cost-sharing funding “ensures that some of our most vulnerable consumers receive assistance for copays and deductibles that are required to be paid under federal law.” (Collins, 9/6)

Bloomberg: GOP Turns To `Small Step' On Obamacare, Works With Democrats 
As Congress debates changes to the law, health insurers and state regulators are putting the finishing touches on how it will operate and what coverage will cost next year. Insurance companies were required to submit their 2018 premiums to regulators in many states on Sept. 5, though there’s some room for changes if Congress takes action. (Edney, Tracer and Dennis, 9/6)

6. Governors To Urge Senate That Reinsurance, Other Measures Needed For Marketplaces

The five governors who will testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today are expected to press for a series of changes to give the marketplace more stability over the coming years.

CQ: Governors Set To Provide More Details On Health Plan
Five governors testifying Thursday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will likely echo the insurance regulators who appeared before the panel this week, while also raising new concerns. Committee members say they expect many of the themes they heard from insurance commissioners on Wednesday to re-emerge during the hearing. That includes reinsurance, the funding of cost-sharing reduction payments and outreach ahead of the open enrollment period. (McIntire, 9/7)

State House News Service: Baker To Offer Senate Suggestions On Stabilizing Health Care Markets
Governor Charlie Baker, in testimony Thursday before a Senate committee in Washington, plans to criticize the tenor of the debate over health care and urge a minimum two-year extension of premium payments worth millions of dollars to health insurers and residents in Massachusetts. Baker has been called to testify before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee alongside four other governors, including Democrats and Republicans from Montana, Tennessee, Utah, and Colorado. (Murphy, 9/7)

WBUR: On Capitol Hill, Gov. Baker Will Push A Bipartisan Approach To Health Care Reform
Gov. Charlie Baker will testify alongside four other governors on Capitol Hill Thursday in the latest sign that he's playing a role in the next phase of federal health care reform. Baker — who will be joined by two fellow Republicans (Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam) and two Democrats (Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper) — has written or helped draft almost a dozen letters to Congressional leaders on health care in the last few months. (Bebinger, 9/6)