May 16, 2017

Senate Republicans talk about how to stabilize ACA markets

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

The new oil-cutting pact will help the market but hardly rescue it

The new OPEC-Russia agreement to steeply cut production should help the oil market avoid a complete meltdown, but it's nowhere near enough to undo the damage from the COVID-19 pandemic, analysts say.

Why it matters: It's the first major coordinated response to the pandemic that's creating an unprecedented collapse in global oil demand and has pushed prices to very low levels.

Premier League players launch fund to help U.K. medical workers

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Premier League players have launched an initiative called #PlayersTogether, which will funnel part of their salaries to the National Health Service to support the U.K.'s front-line workers during the coronavirus crisis.

Why it matters: This decision came at the conclusion of a protracted argument between players, clubs and even government officials over who should bear the brunt of lost revenue in the midst of the pandemic.

GOP worries Trump has only weeks to sharpen coronavirus response

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republicans are increasingly concerned not only about President Trump’s daily briefings but also his broader plan to ease the nation out of the virus crisis and back to work. This concern is acute — and spreading. 

Why it matters: Trump can easily address the briefing worries by doing fewer, but the lackluster bounce-back planning is what worries Republicans most.