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The premium-lowering idea that probably isn't going anywhere

Chairman Lamar Alexander and governors before a HELP hearing. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AP

Nearly every witness before the Senate HELP Committee over the past two weeks has testified that creating some kind of program to help pay the costs of expensive enrollees would be an effective way to reduce premiums and stabilize the Affordable Care Act's insurance markets.

But Chairman Lamar Alexander has made it clear that federal funding for such programs — called reinsurance — isn't likely to be part of the stabilization package he's working on.

What we're watching: While it seems like Alexander has made up his mind, there's still a (very remote) possibility that support for federal seed money for reinsurance programs could end up being part of the package, if only because such programs undeniably lower premiums. If it isn't included, expect reinsurance to remain part of the health care conversation.