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(Alex Brandon / AP)

A bipartisan group of governors this morning seemed to reinforce the Senate HELP Committee's emerging consensus about how to stabilize the Affordable Care Act. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, both Democrats (and, incidentally, both mentioned as possible presidential candidates in 2020), endorsed a slate of policy proposals roughly in line with that the committee is already considering.

What Bullock said: Governors all agree the following things need to be done to stabilize the market:

  • Insurer's cost-sharing subsidies need to be paid
  • Some kind of temporary stability fund (like reinsurance) should be implemented
  • A mix of healthy and unhealthy people need to participate in the market
  • States want to be able to innovate while also maintaining consumer protections

Reinsurance: One ongoing point of debate: Whether the federal government should fund some sort of reinsurance program, which would help insurers cover the costs of their most expensive customers. Governors from both parties said this morning they believe they could ultimately take over such a program themselves — both the financing and the administration — if the federal government gets it started.HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander said the committee needs to "think about what the state share" of funding for a reinsurance program or high-risk pool should be. He has questioned whether this bill, which he's hoping to put together before the end of the month, is the right vehicle for a new reinsurance program.Where the Senate stands: Alexander started off today's session with governors by recapping yesterday's hearing with state insurance commissioners. At yesterday's hearing, "I heard three things mostly: addressing high-cost individuals through reinsurance or some other model, continuing the cost sharing reduction payments, and more flexibility for states in the law's 1332 waivers," Alexander said.

He then gave more details about what he's looking at:

  • Allowing less comprehensive "copper" plans, currently available only to people younger than 30, to be purchased by people older than 30
  • Funding cost sharing subsidies for some period of time

He also outlined several potential changes to the process by which states can seek "innovation waivers" for their own markets:

  • Reducing the six-month waiting period for waiver approval
  • Allowing "copycat" applications to be quickly approved, which would make it easier for one state to adopt another state's model
  • Allowing governors or insurance commissioners to apply for waivers, instead of requiring state legislatures to approve those applications
  • Said he was "intrigued" by finding a new way to calculate waivers' budgetary impacts
  • Looking at whether there's a way to combine the individual market innovation waivers with state Medicaid waivers, so that savings could be shared between the two systems

Go deeper

U.S. grants temporary protected status to thousands of Venezuelans

Venezuelan citizens participate in the vote for the popular consultation in December 2020, as part of a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Doral, Florida. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP

Venezuelans living in the United States will be eligible to receive temporary protected status for 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.

Why it matters: Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have fled to the U.S. amid economic, political and social turmoil back home. Former President Trump, on his last full day in office, granted some protections to Venezuelans through the U.S. Deferred Enforced Departure program, but advocates and lawmakers said the move didn't go far enough.

"She-cession" threatens economic recovery

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

Decades of the slow economic progress women made catching up to men evaporated in just one year.

Why it matters: As quickly as those gains were erased, it could take much, much longer for them to return — a warning Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued today.

The Week America Changed

Sandberg thought Zuckerberg was "nuts" on remote work in January 2020

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty Image

Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg thought Mark Zuckerberg was "nuts" when he raised the possibility in January 2020 that 50,000 Facebook employees might have to work from home. By March 6, they were.

Why it matters: In an interview Monday with Axios Re:Cap, Sandberg explained how Facebook moved quickly to respond to the pandemic with grants for small businesses and work-from-home stipends for its employees, and how the company has been watching the unfolding crisis for women in the workforce.