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The White House is divided on what to do about ACA market stabilization. (Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images)

The White House is internally divided over what to do about individual market stabilization efforts, congressional aides say, and there's no consensus among lawmakers, either. Although there's growing alarm over rising premiums and an increasing sense of urgency to address them, many Republicans are still very wary of the endeavor, especially in the House.

Between the lines: Practically speaking, there's a strong case to be made for addressing insurance premiums ahead of the midterm elections, as many Republicans know. But helping to fix the Affordable Care Act is still a tough pill for many conservatives to swallow, and the president is obviously prone to change his mind many times over on any particular issue.

Driving the debate: For months, some members of Congress – particularly Sens. Lamar Alexander, Patty Murray and Susan Collins – have been pushing to fund the ACA's cost-sharing reduction payments, which President Trump stopped paying last year.

  • Several estimates, including one from the Office of Management and Budget, have said cutting off the payments raised premiums by double digits in 2018. Funding them would both lower premiums and save the government money.
  • The idea of subsidizing high-cost patients through a reinsurance program is also gaining steam on the Hill. Some say this would be easier than funding the subsidies, because of issues related to abortion coverage. But OMB's memo yesterday made clear that from a fiscal standpoint, funding the subsidies is an easier lift.

What we're hearing: There's internal disagreement within the White House over whether to fund the insurer subsidies — and, among those who are supportive, disagreement on what the package should look like.

The bottom line, per a source close to both the White House and GOP leadership: Almost everyone wants to lower premiums, but both Congress and the administration have yet to decide what they want that to look like. There's division in both branches.

Yes, but: Alexander told reporters he expects stabilization measures to be part of a must-pass omnibus spending bill this month. "I have talked to the president in the last three weeks, and I expect to talk with him again. He’s also strongly in favor of it," he said.

  • Collins also struck an optimistic tone: “We’ve had very good conversations with the administration...I’ve had many conversations with them, and we’re proceeding well.”
  • Then there's Sen. Mike Rounds, who worked closely with Alexander and Murray on their stabilization package last year: “We haven’t gotten any signals at all lately.”

Our thought bubble: This feels a little bit like chicken-and-the-egg: Congress isn't quite sure how to proceed without the White House's blessing and direction, and the White House doesn't have a congressional package to sign off on.

Go deeper

Biden: "Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been"

President Biden speaks during the 40th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service at the U.S Capitolon Oct. 16. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden speaking at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday honored members of law enforcement who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2021 and saluted those who are currently serving.

Driving the news: "We expect everything of you, and it's beyond the capacity of anyone to meet the total expectations. Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been," Biden said.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.

New wave of strikes will test worker power

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Thousands of John Deere workers hit the picket line this week after the union smacked down a new worker contract from the farm and equipment maker.

Why it matters: There’s a wave of worker angst spreading across the country. They wield new power that’s come with a historic worker shortage.