Good morning … Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act begins in nine days.
"Well, what I'm waiting [for] is to hear from President Trump what kind of health care bill he might sign," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," when asked whether he'll call a floor vote on the ACA bill sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray.
Behind the scenes: McConnell is by no means the only Senate Republican who's not entirely clear about where Trump stands on this bill. So, what does Trump want?
Don't forget: Alexander-Murray doesn't have to pass on its own. Its ultimate prospects depend largely on what it's attached to and who has the leverage in that process.
State attorneys general and the Trump administration will face off before a federal judge this afternoon in a hearing about the ACA's cost-sharing subsidies.
What's at stake: Trump announced last week that he would quit making the ACA's cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments. Attorneys general from 18 states sued, saying Trump is obligated to keep that money flowing.
The states also asked for a temporary order forcing Trump to keep making the payments while the broader legal challenge works its way through the system. Today's hearing, before Judge Vince Chhabria, an appointee of former President Obama, will focus on whether to grant that temporary order.
The odds: Anything can happen, but they favor the White House.
The Washington Post flags a potentially major issue complicating the upcoming open enrollment season: People who already have coverage through the ACA's exchanges will be automatically re-enrolled in their existing plan on the last day of the enrollment window — once it's too late to make any changes.
Contrast: In the past, consumers were automatically re-enrolled, then received a notice prompting them to look around for a better deal before open enrollment closed.
Why it matters: In many cases, consumers need to go back through the shopping process to shield themselves from major premium increases — and this year's premium hikes are the biggest the exchanges have seen since they opened.
The ACA stabilization bill from Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray seems to be falling into the same trap as so much of the ACA debate: People think we're talking about a much bigger part of the health care system than we actually are.
Most of the ACA — and therefore, by definition, most of any effort to stabilize the ACA — dealt only with the individual insurance market (people who buy coverage on their own, rather than getting it from their jobs or the government). But as Kaiser Family Foundation president Drew Altman notes in his latest column, most of the public thinks Alexander-Murray would apply to everyone with health insurance.
The bottom line: It's up to experts and the media to explain Alexander-Murray for what it is — a limited measure that will never give conservatives or liberals everything they want.
What we're watching this week:
Tuesday: Trump will join Senate Republicans' caucus lunch. The official agenda is focused on tax reform, but it wouldn't be too surprising if health comes up, too.
House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee hearing on HHS' "public health preparedness and response to the 2017 hurricane season." House Veterans Affairs Committee marks up a bill to expand the "Veterans Choice" program, which covers certain procedures for certain veterans at private, non-VA facilities.
Wednesday: Senate Aging Committee hearing on "working and aging with disabilities." House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on federal efforts to combat the opioid crisis.
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