Senators Near Deals on Defense, ObamaCare
September 18, 2017
Senators near bipartisan deal to stabilize ObamaCare insurance markets; Senators near passage of annual defense policy bill; Homebuilder confidence hit hard in September, likely due to hurricanes.
- Senators near bipartisan deal to stabilize ObamaCare insurance markets. The leaders of the Senate Health Committee said that they were optimistic about reaching a bipartisan deal to stabilize the health insurance markets. According to Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the goal of the deal is to put the final touches on a bipartisan package with the hope the Senate will pass it by the end of the month. The main themes of the plan including funding cost-sharing reduction payments to lower out-of-pocket costs for some ObamaCare enrollees, letting people of all ages buy “copper plans” that offer catastrophic coverage with lower premiums and higher deductibles, and giving states more flexibility to approve health insurance plans and rates. [The Hill]
- Senators near passage of annual defense policy bill. The Senate is expected to conclude important defense work this week with the passage of the annual defense policy bill. The upper chamber is aiming to finish up the bill on Monday. The Senate on Thursday voted 84-9 to end debate on the substitute amendment making up the chamber’s version of the National Defense Authorization (NDAA). Like other years, voting on amendments was tied to disagreements over which ones would get floor votes. Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the impasse was due to four amendments: one barring indefinite detention, one tightening “Buy American” requirements for the Pentagon, one stripping limitations on medical research funded by the Pentagon, and one repealing enforcement of spending caps. Once the Senate passes its bill and both the House and Senate return to town, the two chambers can reconcile the two versions of the bill, including differences in funding and a military branch called Space Corps. [The Hill]
Economic Indicators & News
- Homebuilder confidence hit hard in September, likely due to hurricanes. According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, builder confidence dropped 3 points to 64 in September, after a downwardly revised August reading. Anything above 50 on the index is positive territory. The index was at 65 in September 2016. Along with a labor shortage in the construction industry, two severe hurricanes likely contributed to the drop in homebuilder sentiment. Of the index’s three components, current sales conditions fell 4 points to 70, and the index measuring sales expectations in the next six months decreased 4 points, to 74. Labor and high prices are keeping buyers on the sidelines. Sales of newly built homes dropped nearly 10 percent in July, according to the U.S. Census, with high prices being attributed for the decrease in sales. [CNBC]