Don't hold your breath for any short-term steps to stabilize states' insurance markets, even though a handful of Republicans keep talking about how much they'd like to move such a bill before their larger health care overhaul. ("As much as I don't like what we're going to have to do...I think that's kind of our responsibility," Sen. Ron Johnson said earlier in the week.)
Insurers' hunger for stability is real, and Congress could provide it. But Senate GOP aides tell us those steps are only being discussed as a potential part of the chamber's broader health care bill, not as a stopgap. And they might not even make it into the final package, because they're pretty expensive.
Why it matters: No matter what Congress ultimately decides to do, there's almost no chance it will formalize that decision before June 21, the deadline by which insurers have to decide whether they want to participate in the ACA's exchanges next year and, if so, how much to charge. That means they're likely to play it safe, either with substantial premium hikes or by bailing on certain exchanges altogether.
But take note: The New York Times reports that the Senate bill may fund the ACA's cost-sharing reduction subsidies. The only catch, of course, is that there's no way insurers will know by June 21 whether the full bill is going to pass.