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Steve Helber / AP

The Senate GOP health care working group talked today about how to make sure the Affordable Care Act marketplaces don't melt down before next year. That could mean a short-term stabilization bill, but senators said they'd prefer to do it as part of a bigger ACA replacement bill if possible.

The bottom line: "I think the primary focus of discussion right now is the fact that these markets are collapsing," said Sen. Ron Johnson. "So we're trying to grapple with what can we do short-term to stabilize these markets, to prevent them from collapsing." Sen. Thom Tillis said all Senate Republicans discussed the possible need for "relief" at a later lunch, where Sen. Joni Ernst talked about the threat that the last major insurer might pull out of Iowa.

Short-term bill vs. long-term bill: Sen. Rob Portman said there was "no decision made on that, but there is a need to make sure that whatever we do immediately helps to ensure that the insurance market doesn't collapse."

But Sen. Pat Roberts suggested there could be a first step to "shore up those who wouldn't have any insurance" before they pass the rest of the health care bill. Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander said he brought up his proposal to give more options to people who won't have any ACA insurers in 2018 and 2019.

Insurer payments: No decision on whether to fund the ACA cost-sharing subsidies either — but Johnson said he's open to "doing what we need to do in the short-term, even though they may be policies I don't support."

Go deeper

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Utah doctors are doing what they say is the equivalent of rationing care. Intensive care beds in Minnesota are nearly full. And the country overall continues to break hospitalization records — all as millions of Americans travel to spend Thanksgiving with friends and family.

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Southwest CEO: "You should fly"

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  • Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, however, took the opposing position when he was interviewed by "Axios on HBO." "You should fly," he told me, adding that "we need to have as much commerce and business and movement as is safe to do."

Cárdenas: Democrats need to be more "culturally competent" to win

Photo: Paul Morigi via Getty Images

Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), who's running for chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told "Axios on HBO" that the DCCC needs to change "overnight" and his colleagues need to be more "culturally competent" if they want to be successful in the next election.

Why it matters: House Democrats are confronting what went wrong and what their party needs to change after they failed to expand their House majority and President Trump expanded his support among Latino voters.

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