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Caitlin Owens May 17, 2017
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Senate grapples with looming health care deadline

(Christian Gooden / St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

There's a big reason Senate Republicans have floated the idea of a short-term health care package: Insurers have to decide whether to participate in Affordable Care Act federal exchanges in 2018 by June 21. That creates a hard deadline for Congress if it wants to help shore up marketplaces in states like Iowa, which might have no carriers next year.

The problem: There's almost no way congressional Republicans finish their health reform efforts in the next month. That raises the question of whether they can, or should, pass some kind of short-term stabilization measure. And that would presumably require Democrats.

What we're watching: Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker have introduced a bill allowing people to use ACA premium subsidies to buy plans that are not on exchanges in places without any exchange options. Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill told me she plans to introduce a bill on the issue "within the next couple of days," and said she'd had "informal discussions" about it with Republicans. (She wouldn't elaborate on what it does.)