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Payers slam Cruz proposal to sell ACA-noncompliant plans under Senate bill

Payers slam Cruz proposal to sell ACA-noncompliant plans under Senate bill

The Senate revised its health care plan this week in hopes of mollifying lawmakers anxious that the legislation would hurt their constituents.

This week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) tried to be the hero by proposing the "Consumer Freedom Option" - colloquially known as a the Cruz amendment.

"The new Cruz Amendment is a risky bait-and-switch that will lead to junk insurance plans that no American would want", Schumer said at a news conference accompanied by fellow upper- chamber Democrats Patty Murray (Wash.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), shortly after a draft of the legislation was released. They could offer skimpier policies that don't offer maternity, mental health and prescription drugs. That's when healthy people opt for cheaper coverage, causing premiums to increase dramatically for sicker people who retain more comprehensive insurance. Lisa Murkowski, who would see a guarantee of funding for her state to combat high premiums after she has been vocal in opposition to various elements of the bill.

Conservative Republicans, such as Sen. Mike Lee that critics say could make plans with adequate coverage unaffordable to those who have certain medical conditions.

The Cruz amendment "is simply unworkable in any form and would undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions, increase premiums and lead to widespread terminations of coverage for people now enrolled in the individual market", wrote the CEOs of America's Health Insurance Plans and the BlueCross BlueShield Association.

Among the changes to the new bill: More funds would be set aside for the opioid crisis, and a provision would allow people to pay for premiums using a health savings account. But insurers said it would not be enough.




One of the critical parts of the ACA was that it prohibits insurers from denying coverage to or charging more for people with pre-existing conditions.

Cruz's plan would also get at the complaints of conservative senators that the original Senate health care bill doesn't undo enough of the current law's mandates, though it does eliminate the fines for not being insured. Almost all of this population earns more than 350 percent above the federal poverty level - the cutoff point in the Senate bill for receiving federal subsidies to help purchase marketplace coverage.

All told, the legislation would reduce Medicaid spending by $772 billion by 2026, leaving 15 million fewer people covered by the program, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. "There are a lot of people with great needs in this country".

The BCRA is still the most unpopular bill in three decades.

But while the suggestion could win over right-leaning holdouts before a planned vote on the legislation next week, it has alienated more moderate Republican senators like West Virginia's Shelley Moore Capito and Iowa's Chuck Grassley.


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