Bipartisan Health Care Work Taking Shape in Senate

Finance, HELP committees plan hearings after recess

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, right, and ranking member Ron Wyden of Oregon will preside over health care hearings in September. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate Finance Committee is set to hold September hearings on proposals for overhauling federal health care policies, including a plan for reauthorizing a program that serves about 5.7 million children, according to Chairman Orrin G. Hatch announced Thursday.

The Finance panel is taking the same approach as the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which also announced plans for bipartisan work after Republicans failed last week to advance a partisan measure to roll back much of the Democrats’ 2010 health care law. The HELP Committee plans to hold hearings the first week of September, after returning from the August recess.

“We’ve also heard a lot of demands from members of the committee for a health care hearing. I intend to do that as well shortly after the recess,” said Hatch, a Utah Republican. “Long story short, it’s going to be a busy fall for the Finance Committee.”

Sen. Ron Wyden, the committee’s ranking member, said the Finance panel “works best on a bipartisan basis.”

“In light of the last few weeks, I’m sure members on both sides are eager to bring more health care ideas forward,” the Oregon Democrat said.

Neither Hatch nor Wyden suggested the panel would be advancing legislation next month related to an overhaul of federal regulations on health insurance, as HELP Committee leaders Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., plan to do.

The Finance panel will be largely focused on a tax overhaul after the recess, though Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which falls to the Finance Committee to first advance.

Wyden noted that CHIP was first crafted by Hatch and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and could be an example of bipartisan action on health care. Congress last reauthorized the CHIP program in 2015 as part of a broader health package.

“I know members of this committee on both sides are eager to live up to their example,” he said.


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