New Senate Healthcare Bill Will Include Cruz ‘Consumer Choice’ Amendment

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The new Senate healthcare bill released Thursday includes the Cruz ‘consumer choice’ amendment, as well as more money to stabilize the health insurance markets.

The new Senate healthcare bill, otherwise known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) adds more money to combat the opioid crisis, more funds to stabilize the insurance markets, and the Cruz amendment that would allow Americans to purchase more affordable healthcare plans that do not comply with Obamacare insurance regulations as long as they offer plans that do comply with the Obamacare rules.

The new BCRA includes a tweaked version of the Cruz amendment that stipulates if health insurers were to cover a “sufficient minimum coverage” on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges then they could also offer more affordable health plans outside of the Obamacare exchanges exempt from many Obamacare insurance regulations. Sicker Americans would enroll in the Obamacare exchange plans more than healthier citizens, so the new BCRA will include a $70 billion provision to help health insurers cover high-risk patients, for a total of $132 billion to help states reduce patients’ out-of-pocket expenses.

The new BCRA will also retain Obamacare’s net investment tax, the Medicare insurance tax, and the remuneration tax on executive compensation for health insurance executives. The BCRA will also provide $45 billion to combat the opioid crisis.

The Senate healthcare bill will not make any changes to the original bill’s alterations to Medicaid. The BCRA will phase out Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion over the next seven years, cap Medicaid spending per capita, and allow states to block grant Medicaid spending.

The new BCRA attempts to persuade conservative senators such as Rand Paul (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) support the bill. The four conservative senators originally opposed the original bill for not repealing enough of Obamacare.

Senator Mike Lee previously came out against the original BCRA for not repealing enough of Obamacare. He has withheld his support unless Majority Leader Mitch McConnell includes the Cruz amendment in the bill.

On Thursday, Lee said that he claims that Senate leadership included an amendment that resembles the Cruz amendment, not the exact amendment. He will reserve his judgment until he has a chance to read the bill.

Read the bill here.


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