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The Latest: Senator urges health compromise by both parties

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2017 file photo, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., accompanied by the committee's ranking member Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Millions of people who buy individual health insurance policies and get no government help for premiums are facing another year of double-digit premium increases and frustration is boiling over. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress and health care (all times local):

10:15 a.m.

The chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee says both parties must be willing to compromise to achieve a deal that would strengthening the country’s individual health insurance markets.

Sen. Lamar Alexander says if lawmakers can’t do that, “the blame will be on every one of us, and rightfully so.”

The Tennessee Republican says GOP lawmakers must agree to provide federal subsidies to insurers lowering out-of-pocket costs for millions of people. President Donald Trump has threatened to halt those payments.

Alexander says in return, Democrats must agree to make it easier for insurers to sell policies with slimmer coverage. Democrats don’t want to reduce coverage requirements in former President Barack Obama’s health law.

Alexander said he wants a consensus on a package by next week’s end.

He spoke as his committee began a hearing on the effort.


3:50 a.m.

Senators want are looking to seal a modest bipartisan deal for shoring up the country’s individual health insurance markets.

But raw feelings over the Senate’s failed attempt to repeal former President Barack Obama’s health law won’t make the task any easier.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee plans four health care hearings — with the first one Wednesday. Set to testify are insurance commissioners from five states.

Committee leaders hope to write legislation providing subsidies to insurers that lower costs for customers. The committee chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander, also wants to make it easier for states to let companies sell policies with less coverage.

Analysts expect 2018 premium increases to rise again next year. And nearly half the nation’s counties are expected to have just one insurer selling policies on government marketplaces.

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