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(Jacquelyn Martin / AP)

The Senate is considering state waivers that would allow them to opt out of several of the the Affordable Care Act's insurer regulations, but not the ones protecting people with pre-existing conditions, according to several GOP aides.

Major Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday presented members with a range of topics they must make decisions about while writing the Senate health care bill. While a lot of the presentation was a recap of what's been discussed over the last month, a firmer state waiver policy recommendation was made.

What could be waived, according to senior GOP aides:

  • The ACA's essential health benefits.
  • Its regulation on how much of insurers' premium revenue must be spent on claims, called the Medical Loss Ratio requirement.
  • Its age rating band allowing older people to be charged no more than three times as much as younger people.

What couldn't be waived:

  • The ACA's provision that insurers must offer coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Its prohibition on plans charging people with pre-existing conditions more than healthy people. (The House allowed waivers of this provision under limited circumstances.)

The problem: Conservatives didn't like the idea, wanting more of the regulations to be waived.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

Former Defense Secretary Esper sues Pentagon over book

Former President Trump and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the White House in 2020. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper filed a lawsuit Sunday against the Defense Department, accusing the Pentagon of "censoring" his First Amendment rights by redacting parts of his upcoming book on the Trump administration.

The big picture: Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until he was fired by then-President Trump in November last year, alleges in the suit that "significant text" is "being improperly withheld from publication" of the manuscript "under the guise of classification."

WHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The World Health Organization called on countries Sunday to not impose travel bans on southern African nations amid concerns over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The U.S. and countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific announced travel restrictions in response to Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. It's since spread to several European countries, Canada, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong. The WHO noted in a statement that only two southern African nations have detected the new variant.