Good morning ... Many thanks to all of you who kept up with Vitals, or perhaps signed up for the first time, throughout the Graham-Cassidy debate. I loved getting all your thoughts, story ideas and suggestions, and hope you'll keep them coming.
Repeal-and-replace is dead, at least for now. But congressional Republicans nevertheless have some very big decisions to make about the Affordable Care Act, important provisions of which could quickly end up right back onto the bargaining table.
Bipartisan stabilization: Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray said they intend to restart their search for a bipartisan bill that would stabilize the ACA's insurance markets, probably through some combination of funding guarantees for insurers and regulatory flexibility for states.
Decisions about tax reform: A not-insignificant contingent of Senate Republicans wants to take another crack at health care in the same bill they're using for tax reform — potentially combining the two extremely hard jobs into one even harder undertaking.
ACA taxes: Even if health care and tax reform aren't formally combined, there's already been some talk of pulling some of the ACA's taxes into the broader tax reform effort.
One last thing: Part of the Alexander-Murray talks involve a commitment to keep paying the ACA's cost-sharing reduction subsidies, or CSRs, which the Trump administration has been paying one month at a time. Check out this quote from Thune: "The White House, the administration, obviously has the authority to extend the CSRs."
Flashback: You may recall that Republicans took the opposite view during the Obama administration. They sued to stop the White House from extending the CSRs, saying it was unconstitutional, and they won.
Insurers have to decide today whether they're in or out of the ACA's exchanges next year. Axios' Bob Herman isn't expecting a ton of last-minute changes — the companies that have said they're in will probably stay in.
Lay of the land: All of the "bare counties" have been filled (unless new ones open up today). Here's where things stand, as of the last official update from the Department of Health and Human Services:
Federal funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program is set to expire at the end of the month.
What's happening: Earlier this month, Sens. Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden, the chairman and top Democrat on the Finance Committee, reached a deal to extend the program for five years while gradually phasing out a funding bump from the ACA.
Yes, but: The path forward for passing that agreement hasn't yet been determined, though most states have enough CHIP funding on hand to carry them past Sept. 30.
HHS secretary Tom Price sometimes tacked some personal business — like visiting his son or his property — onto the official trips for which he chartered private jets at the taxpayers' expense, Politico reported last night. Politico has identified 26 times Price chartered a private jet for official travel since taking over at HHS, for a total of more than $400,000.
Why it matters: In any other year, this story would be everywhere. And the HHS inspector general is also conducting an investigation. Especially with the more immediate Graham-Cassidy furor off the table, don't expect this story to, ahem, fly under the radar.
What we're watching today: Insurers' contract decisions.
What we're watching this week: The House's progress on Medicare extenders
It's over! We're free! For now! What are you going to do with yourself now that repeal-and-replace isn't taking up every minute of every day? I'm taking suggestions: email@example.com.