Here are 5 kinds of bills that might have enough bipartisan heat to melt through Senate gridlock...

(Photo: Bloomberg. Design: ALM-Chris Nicholls)

1. Internet access bills

Many low-income people and people in rural areas still lack the Internet access they need to need to use telehealth programs or get health information. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has introduced a library Internet access subsidy bill, S. 4285, that has attracted both Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski as cosponsors.

2. Physician supply expansion bills

Analysts say the United States faces a growing shortage of doctors. S. 304, Susan Collins' primary care doctor training program bill, has attracted both Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as cosponsors.

3. Pregnancy support bills

Lisa Murkowski has attracted a Democratic cosponsor, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, for S.2296, the Pregnancy Assistance Act of 2019 bill. The bill would reauthorize funding for efforts to help people handle pregnancy and parenting.

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4. Caregiver support bills

Susan Collins has attracted four Democratic cosponsors, including Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Patty Murray of Washington state, for S. 995, a bill that would help states pay for respite care for family caregivers.

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5. Dementia research bills

Susan Collins has lined up 41 cosponsors, including Kamala Harris, for S. 901, the Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease Act bill. The bill would support efforts to help people under age 60 who have Alzheimer's disease or related disorders.

Conventional wisdom is that as president, Joe Biden will have a hard time getting much legislation through Congress because Democrats will have only a narrow majority in the House, and because Republicans’ seem likely to keep control over the Senate.

Conventional wisdom ignores the possibility that Republicans and Democrats could work together to draft and pass bipartisan bills. Members of Congress have succeeded at getting some health measures signed into law in recent years.

Resources

  • Tools for studying lawmakers’ legislative efforts are available here.
  • An article about a recent House health insurance policy hearing is available here.

President Donald Trump and Congress have succeeded at zeroing out the Affordable Care Act individual mandate penalty, postponing the start date of the ACA excise tax on high-cost health plans, and enacting two bipartisan drug price bills: the “Know the Lowest Price Act of 2018″ bill and the “Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act” bill.

For Biden, one major obstacle could be procedural issues: Trump is continuing to challenge the outcome of the Nov. 3 election in the courts, and by trying to persuade members of the Electoral College to vote for him.

Assuming that Biden takes office in January, and that Republicans continue to have a narrow majority in the Senate, the easiest way for Biden to get legislation through Congress would be to focus on measures introduced by Senate Republicans, that just about all Democrats in the Senate can support, that relate to the federal budget.

Focusing on broadly popular measures that were originally sponsored by Senate Republicans could, possibly, attract enough Republican votes in the Senate for supporters to cobble together a Senate majority.

Senators normally need at least 60 votes to get a bill to the floor of the Senate.

But senators can get budget packages to the floor with just 51 votes. A senator can squeeze almost any measure into a budget package, if the Senate parliamentarian rules that the measure is germane to the budget.

One way to identify health policy initiatives with broad enough support to get through the Senate in budget package might be to look at bills sponsored or cosponsored by some of the Republican senators most likely to cross party lines to vote for a bill, such as Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

For a look at some health insurance and health policy bills that look as if they could overcome partisan gridlock in the Senate, see the slideshow above. (Wiggle your pointer over the first slide to make the control arrows show up.)

— Read 5 Top Biden Health Bill Gatekeeper Prospectson ThinkAdvisor.

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