WASHINGTON, D.C. - Democrats and Republicans in both the House and the Senate may be on the verge of something that hasn't been seen in the chamber in quite some time -- bipartisan efforts to reform the health care system.
Senator Lamar Alexander says the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee is planing to hold a bipartisan hearing on ways to shore up health care exchanges so that the individual marketplace doesn't collapse.
Meanwhile in the House, a group of 40 lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have dubbed themselves the "Problem Solvers Caucus." While it may sound like an overly simplistic name, the issues they're attempting to take on are anything but simple. Still, they've put forth a five-point plan to fix the Affordable Care Act.
It includes provisions that would provide funding for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies, create a stability fund for states to reduce premiums and limit losses for insurance companies, change the employer mandate to only apply to companies that have 500 or more employees, repeal a sales tax on medical devices, and make changes to sections of the Affordable Care Act to make it easier for states to innovate health care and sell coverage across state lines.
While Congress seems to be ready to work together, President Donald Trump has taken a much more hardline stance on health care. He says if Republicans can't come together and repeal the Affordable Care Act, then Congress should do nothing and let the marketplace crumble.
If Congress wants to put together some sort of fix, members will have to work quickly. Whatever plan they come up with would have to be in place before September 27. That's the last day for insurance companies to sign contracts to provide coverage on the individual market for 2018.
If Congress can't get it done, then President Trump may just get his wish.