Senate Takes Bipartisan Step to Address Health Care Costs and Equity

By Eva Marie Stahl: For More Info, Go Here…

Last week, the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on a bipartisan cost containment package, dubbed the Alexander-Murray bill. The draft, shared prior to the hearing, represented months of deliberation about health care costs – including invited comments from health economists, advocates and other stakeholders. Senators Alexander and Murray used the hearing to lift up the core drivers of high health care spending and to develop a narrative about consensus regarding pathways to contain costs over the short and long run. The mark-up of the legislation is currently underway and we anticipate limited changes. The cost containment package offers a small cracked window into what bipartisan work can achieve – and, significantly, the bill draft provides a glimmer of hope for health justice by squarely addressing structural racism as a core driver of health disparities. This is an important and modest step forward in advancing health equity.

The bill itself is divided into five parts – encapsulating key themes or leading issues for Congress this session: surprise out-of-network billing, high cost of prescription drugs, data sharing and transparency, maternal health and all-payer claims database. The proposed bill also serves as vehicle to extend funding for community health centers (CHCs) for five years. There is a lot packed into the bill – and a lot of “good stuff” to feel positive about. Below are some key pieces we are monitoring.

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