Good morning ... The HELP Committee's hearings are over. Now it's time to put something in writing and find out whether a bipartisan ACA compromise can happen.
Sen. Lamar Alexander's colleagues agree: If anyone is going to find some kind of bipartisan middle ground on the Affordable Care Act, it's him. "Lamar is the perfect person to be in the position that he's in," Sen. Jerry Moran said.
Even so, Alexander is trying to walk a very fine line. After eight years of partisan entrenchment, it's not clear anyone can find a compromise, however narrow, on the ACA.
Between the lines: My colleague Caitlin Owens runs through all the competing pressures Alexander is facing:
The strategy: Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on HELP, kept the discussion narrow and brought in senators from outside their committee at the beginning of the process. One of those senators, Sen. Angus King, said Alexander and Murray have handled this difficult task "just the right way."
In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, the National Institutes of Health started funding research into gun violence. But now it has let that program lapse, according to a report in Science.
Be smart: Government-funded research into gun violence is extremely difficult to sustain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped researching gun violence in the 90s, under pressure from gun-rights groups and congressional Republicans, and still avoided the issue even after former President Obama said gun research could resume.
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The Congressional Budget Office yesterday rolled back its estimates of how many people the ACA will eventually cover, and also said it expects to see major premium hikes next year. Here's a rundown of the CBO report and why its expectations have changed — some due to President Trump's actions and others due to market pressures.
The bottom line: Trump is by no means the only factor affecting premiums, enrollment or insurers' participation in the exchanges. But it's hard to avoid the conclusion that he's successfully undercutting the law.
Some ACA navigators — groups that help with enrollment outreach and walk consumers through the process — are facing budget cuts as high as 92%, the Washington Post reports.
What's happening: The Trump administration previously said it would slash overall funding for the navigator program by 41%, so everyone knew cuts were coming, but not until this week did the administration decide how much to cut each specific organization.
Four health economists who were expert witnesses in unsuccessful health insurance mergers conducted a postmortem of the dead deals in Chicago yesterday. Axios' Bob Herman was there and got the skinny:
Will health insurers try big deals again?
What we're watching today: Any out-of-left-field moves on the Graham-Cassidy ACA repeal bill. Probably a lot of fruitless sniping on Twitter about single-payer.
What are you watching? Let me know: email@example.com