Alexander, HELP to Focus on Reducing Health Care Costs

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee announced that his top focus for the panel for the next two years will be reducing health care costs. He is soliciting specific ideas for legislative, regulatory, or subregulatory solutions from health care experts, economists, doctors, nurses, patients, hospital administrators, state regulators and legislators, governors, employers, insurers and innovators about how to reduce health care costs for taxpayers, employers and families.

Senate GOP Committee Assignments

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released Republican committee assignments for the 116th Congress following the swearing in of new members on Jan. 3. Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) have been added to the Senate HELP Committee. The Senate Finance Committee added Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), who left HELP, to its membership. The assignments are subject to approval by the Republican Conference and full Senate. Democratic rosters were announced last month.

Roberts Will Not Seek Reelection in 2020

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) has announced that he will not seek a fifth term in 2020. Roberts represented Kansas’ 1st Congressional District from 1981 until he was first elected to the upper chamber in 1996. He is the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a member of the Senate HELP and Finance Committees.

NC House Seat Remains Vacant

North Carolina Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris was not seated in the House at the start of the 116th Congress. Harris has a narrow lead in the race against Democrat Dan McCready for the state’s 9th Congressional District, but the state Board of Elections will not certify the results until an investigation into possible election fraud committed by one of Harris’s staff members is completed. It is the last undecided race of the 2018 midterm election cycle.

Slight Decline in 2019 HealthCare.gov Enrollment

Approximately 8.4 million people selected or re-enrolled in plans using HealthCare.gov, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) final weekly enrollment snapshot for the 2019 enrollment period. This is a decline from 8.7 million signups last year. CMS will release data in March detailing plan selection data from state-based exchanges that do not use the HealthCare.gov platform.

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