Good morning … If it wasn't already on your itinerary, now you really ought to join us this morning as Mike Allen sits down with Sens. Lamar Alexander, Bill Cassidy and Tim Kaine to talk about what's next in health care. Details here.
Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray have been working on a bipartisan stabilization bill for months. But they finally stuck a deal just five days after President Trump announced he was ending the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing reduction (CSRs) payments, which threatened to cause chaos in the individual market.
Both parties said the president's decision helped force them to reach a deal — and they both say the risky move ended up working in their favor, Caitlin Owens reports. "The one thing that the president deciding to do that did, is forced them to come to the table," said Sen. John Thune, a member of GOP leadership.
Be smart: Both sides are claiming victory. That ultimately bodes well for the future of the package, which experts on both sides say is likely to help stabilize the individual market.
Alexander and Murray yesterday outlined only the broad strokes of their agreement. There's still a lot we don't know about the plan — including a lot of decisions Alexander and Murray just haven't made yet. The following questions still need to be answered, roughly in this order:
How, exactly, does this new waiver process work?
Will it get a vote?
How will it affect 2018 rates?
Insurance companies would lose $1 billion this year alone if the CSRs don't resume, according to data from the consulting firm Avalere Health. Alexander and Murray's bill would make those payments for the rest of this year, but it's not clear when — or whether — their agreement would actually pass. And in the meantime, insurers will be losing millions.
The bottom line: Florida, California, and Texas insurers would be hardest hit, with Florida insurers alone losing $200 million. They have to provide the subsidies to low and middle-income people even if they don't get reimbursed — but some will raise their rates or even pull out of the markets if they have to face those kinds of losses.
Former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar is a leading candidate for Health and Human Services secretary, according to Politico. He served in senior roles at HHS, including a stint as the department's general counsel, during the George W. Bush administration, then worked at Eli Lilly.
Tevi Troy, who preceded Azar as HHS deputy secretary, sang Azar's praises yesterday, saying he'd be an asset to the Trump White House as it tries to rework the health care system through administrative actions.
Quick take: What was all that stuff about drug companies "getting away with murder?"
The leading trade organization for prescription drug manufacturers says they support efforts to repeal the controversial law that helped sink Rep. Tom Marino's nomination to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The repeal effort is led by Sens. Joe Manchin and Claire McCaskill.
Why it matters: Democrats won a major political victory over the Trump administration when Marino withdrew his nomination yesterday. But if it's true that this law has done material damage in the fight against opioid abuse, repealing it would be the fight that counts in people's lives.
The next generation of cancer treatments — based around drugs that modify our own immune systems to fight off cancer cells — could easily rack up price tags north of $1 million, Kaiser Health News reports.
Why they're so expensive:
These new treatments involve harvesting and then genetically modifying a patient's immune cells via CAR T-cell therapy. The altered cells are infused back into the patient to help the immune system attack the tumors. The treatments hold a lot of promise in fighting cancer, but can also cause a raft of expensive complications.
What we're watching today: Axios' health care event — with Alexander, Cassidy and Kaine — kicks off at 8am. U.S. Chamber of Commerce health care event this afternoon.
What we're watching this week: New details and reaction to Alexander-Murray. Senate HELP Committee hearing Thursday on how healthier choices benefit the health care system.
Thoughts on the Senate's deal? Let me hear 'em: email@example.com