Senate panel eyes federal money and state flexibility to stabilize ACA

(Alex Brandon / AP)

Lawmakers and policy experts are honing in on a small handful of policies — mostly, different forms of federal funding and regulatory flexibility — as the Senate tries its hand at a bipartisan Affordable Care Act fix.

The first of several Senate HELP Committee hearings on the individual market was (believe it or not!) full of substantive health policy discussions, as members questioned state insurance commissioners. Everyone seemed interested in funding the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing subsidies, and most seemed interested in expanded regulatory waivers for states. A handful of other policy ideas, including direct government payments to help offset the costs of expensive patients, are also looking pretty popular.