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Ted Cruz Reveals Details Of His Amendment Proposal To Senate Healthcare Bill

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Earlier today, Senators Rand Paul (KY), Ted Cruz (TX), Ron Johnson (WI) and Mike Lee (UT) issued a joint statement announcing their opposition to McConnell’s healthcare bill on the basis that it did not fulfill a promise made to the American public to “repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”  Here was the full statement:

“Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor.  There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as a written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.

Ironically, these conservative Senators, for once, offered some hope to the mainstream media which quickly latched onto their comments as a sign that TrumpCare was potentially ‘DOA.’

Alas, in light of a new statement that Cruz has just posted to his facebook account, it seems as though his prior ‘joint opposition’ announcement may have been nothing more than a signal that he’s ready to begin negotiations to extract some ‘holdup value’ in return for his vote.  Here’s an excerpt:

But it is important to remember that what was released today was only a draft. I am hopeful that as we openly debate this legislation, real improvements will be made prior to floor consideration so that we can pass a bill that provides the relief from Obamacare that Republicans have repeatedly promised the last seven years.

I want to get to yes, but this first draft doesn’t get the job done. Over the next week and beyond, I will continue working to bring Republicans together to honor our promise, repeal Obamacare, and adopt common-sense, consensus reforms that can actually be passed into law.

So what are conservatives in the Senate looking to get?  As it turns out, Cruz has just shared details with The Hill of an amendment he has proposed called the “Consumer Freedom Amendment.”  Among other things, the amendment would allow insurers to sell slimmed down, lower-premium plans (i.e. “catastrophe plans”) to consumers who don’t to pay for all 10 medical services mandated by Obamacare.

The “Consumer Freedom Amendment” would leave existing ObamaCare plans on the individual market, while also allowing insurers to sell plans that don’t comply with requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

“What that does — it leaves existing plans on the market but it gives new options so that people can purchase far more affordable health insurance. It will enable a lot more people to be able to afford buying health insurance,” Cruz told The Hill on Thursday afternoon.

Cruz’s amendment would allow insurers to continue offering plans that follow ObamaCare’s “Title One” requirements, including essential health benefits, which mandates 10 services insurers must cover with no cost-sharing.

But insurers could also sell skimpier, cheaper plans that don’t cover those 10 services or meet other ObamaCare requirements.

“If a health insurer offers a plan consistent with the Title One mandates, insurers can also sell in that same state any other plans that consumers desire,” Cruz said.

Of course, as John Boehnor has pointed out before, any hopes of a compromise between Republicans on healthcare may be nothing more than a bunch of “happy talk” as they have “never, ever, not once” agreed on what a plan should look like.

* * *

Below is Cruz’s full statement:

Four months ago, I joined with a group of five other senators with very different perspectives on health care policy – representative of the full spectrum of the Republican Party – for the sole purpose of working together to fulfill our commitment to voters to reduce premiums and provide better, more affordable healthcare. Over time, this group expanded to include committee chairs, Senate leadership, and then the entire conference. We carefully deliberated, with the common goal of crafting a bill that can pass and that actually fixes the problems Obamacare has wrought.

While I have not yet had the opportunity to fully review the draft legislative text itself, there are components that give me encouragement and there are also components that are a cause for deep concern.

I am encouraged that the bill would expand association health plans, so those in individual or small group markets can join together in large groups to get lower rates. I am also pleased that the bill would make at least some progress in reining in the long-term growth of Medicaid. These are two inclusions that I have been fighting for since the beginning of our discussions. Finally, I am glad that this retains the provisions previously passed by Congress to prevent taxpayer dollars from funding organizations that perform abortions.

However, as currently drafted, this bill draft does not do nearly enough to lower premiums. That should be the central issue for Republicans – repealing Obamacare and making healthcare more affordable. Because of this, I cannot support it as currently drafted, and I do not believe it has the votes to pass the Senate.

But it is important to remember that what was released today was only a draft. I am hopeful that as we openly debate this legislation, real improvements will be made prior to floor consideration so that we can pass a bill that provides the relief from Obamacare that Republicans have repeatedly promised the last seven years.

Specifically, we should do more to ensure consumers have the freedom to choose among more affordable plans that are tailored for their individual healthcare needs. We should allow consumers to purchase insurance across state lines and create a true 50-state marketplace, driving down costs for everyone. We should expand health savings accounts so that consumers can pay health insurance premiums on a pre-tax basis. We should incentivize states to cap punitive damages in medical malpractice lawsuits to further reduce the cost of healthcare.

Finally, we should provide real flexibility for Medicaid, so states can design creative and innovative ways to provide care for our most vulnerable. I have strongly advocated for these proposals to this point and will continue to do so going forward.

I want to get to yes, but this first draft doesn’t get the job done. Over the next week and beyond, I will continue working to bring Republicans together to honor our promise, repeal Obamacare, and adopt common-sense, consensus reforms that can actually be passed into law.


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