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Senate health leaders reach bipartisan short-term deal to continue ACA subsidies

Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Patty Murray, D-Wash., the panel's ranking member, said Oct. 17 they reached an agreement on a bipartisan deal to fund for two years the subsidies provided under the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, that help low-income Americans cover the costs of their prescription drugs and doctor visits.

President Donald Trump, who cut off the so-called cost-sharing reduction, or CSR, payments Oct. 12, told reporters he was aware of the deal and said he backed the plan.

The CSRs will be funded in exchange for allowing states to have greater flexibility in using waivers to approve insurance plans with comparable affordability as those offered under the ACA requirements.

The lawmakers, however, were still working out final details and planned to brief their colleagues later in the day.

It remains unclear whether the House is on board with the agreement.

Trump is facing at least one multiparty lawsuit from attorneys general in 18 states and the District of Columbia for halting the CSR payments.