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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

Mike Pompeo shells out for media makeover

Via "Fox News Sunday"

Mike Pompeo's political action committee spent $30,000 on media training from last March to June — the most on any service beyond payroll during the first six months of 2021.

Why it matters: The former secretary of State hasn't just been losing weight but working to hone his media skills amid speculation about a possible presidential run, records show.

22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan infrastructure group takes on election reform

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The bipartisan group focused on updating the Electoral Count Act of 1887 is seizing on this recess period to court senators more freely.

Why it matters: The group is led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and includes many members who helped reach the bipartisan infrastructure deal. They see themselves as the only hope of creating an election reform package able to muster 60 votes in the Senate.

Rep. Lamborn may have misused official resources, ethics panel alleges

Rep. Doug Lamborn departs from a news conference held by the House Republican Israel Caucus on May 19, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Congressional ethics investigators said Monday there is "substantial reason" to believe that Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) misused official resources and solicited or accepted improper gifts from subordinates.

Driving the news: Lamborn's aides told investigators they were often asked to run personal errands for his wife, Jeanie Lamborn, and were at one point tasked with helping his son apply for a federal position, according to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). Lamborn strongly denies the allegations.