Good morning ... The Senate is working a short week this week, but that still leaves plenty of time for everyone to get worked up over the repeal bill from Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy. What is dead may never die.
My Axios colleague Caitlin Owens and I are both deeply — like, Mariana Trench deeply — skeptical that the latest Affordable Care Act repeal bill can pass. One of our many reasons: A lot of Republican senators' states — particularly those that expanded Medicaid — would lose a lot of money.
The Senate HELP Committee is expected to release its proposal this week to stabilize the ACA's marketplaces. The broad outlines of that plan are still in line with what we've reported previously:
Key term to know: A quick note of clarification on the cost-sharing subsidies, since we keep talking about an agreement to "fund" them, and some Republicans have referred to that step as a "bailout" of the law:
Reality check: The $0 price tag is a big part of the reason this idea is on the table in the first place. HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander is working hard to keep this deal as narrow as possible. And this is something Congress can do, without spending any new money, to help bring some stability to the states.
Since Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced his bill last week, I've gotten a lot of questions about the meat of single-payer systems — how they work, what counts as "single-payer," where Sanders' bill falls on that spectrum.
Comparison: So, I took a crack at comparing Sanders' plan to the single-payer system that lives right upstairs: Canada. You can read the whole thing here, but here are a few key points:
Be smart: A lot of Democrats backed his bill as a jumping-off point from which they'll release their own proposals. A lot of them will be less ambitious than Sanders'. But if and when that becomes grist for Democrats' eternal infighting, just remember: Even the actual single-payer systems Sanders wants to emulate are less ambitious than Sanders' plan.
Last week, my Axios colleague Bob Herman wrote about how Medicare is uncritically approving nearly every payment recommendation from the American Medical Association's panel of doctors, known as the RUC. Peter Smith, a heart surgeon at Duke University who chairs the RUC, submitted a statement to Bob through the AMA.
You can read the entire statement here. But one part stood out:
Bob's reality check: The RUC may not technically set rates for medical services, but effectively it does when Medicare is prepared to accept 99% of its suggestions and makes it clear it will rely even more on the RUC in the future.
What we're watching this week: The Graham-Cassidy show.
Tuesday: The Kaiser Family Foundation releases its annual survey of employer-based health care.
Get in touch: I'd love to hear your feedback, questions, comments and, of course, tips: firstname.lastname@example.org