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New Health Care Plan Unlikely This Year, Republican Senator Says

Conservative and centrist GOP lawmakers continue to butt heads

In an interview with a North Carolina news station, Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) said he doesn’t think Congress is going to reach a deal to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) any time soon, according to The Hill.

“It’s unlikely that we will get a health care deal,” Burr said. “I don't see a comprehensive health care plan this year.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) lowered expectations last week when he said he didn’t know how the Senate would get to 51 votes on health care and suggested that moving tax reform legislation could be simpler.

Deep divisions remain between conservative and centrist Republican senators on what a revised health care bill should look like. Major sticking points include how to handle Medicaid expansion and insurer regulations under the PPACA.

In his interview, Burr indicated that the Senate is looking for ways to stabilize the PPACA insurance markets in the short term. Some states are in danger of having no insurers on the exchanges next year, and some senators have said they are seeking a way to address that, according to The Hill.

A bill proposed by Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) would allow people who live in states with no insurers on the exchanges to use their subsidies for other health plans. They would also be exempt from the PPACA’s individual mandate.

Meanwhile, insurers are still waiting to hear from the Trump administration about whether it will continue the PPACA’s cost-sharing reduction payments, which reimburse insurers for giving discounts to low-income customers. The Trump administration made the May payment, but said it hasn’t made a decision about future payments. 

Source: The Hill; June 2, 2017.

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