Insurance Lobby Sounds Alarm Over Cruz Amendment To Senate Health Bill

Insurance Lobby Sounds Alarm Over Cruz Amendment To Senate Health Bill

"It is simply unworkable in any form", the letter said. A huge deductible? Coverage for only one night of hospitalization?

That would seemingly be good news for someone like Katie Matheson, a mother of two young boys: Ulysses, who is 2½, and Abraham, who is 9 months old.

TPM's report also quoted Tim Jost, a health care law expert and professor at Washington and Lee University, saying the Republican "gives an additional $70 billion to the states and then the Cruz amendment gives it to insurers that offer compliant plans in addition to noncompliant plans". These non-compliant plans wouldn't have to cover the "essential health benefits" that Obamacare plans on the exchanges are required to cover, but they'd be a lot cheaper.

"The revised bill ensures consumers have the freedom to choose among more affordable plans that are tailored to their individual health care needs, and expands health savings accounts so that consumers can pay health insurance premiums on a pre-tax basis", Cruz said in a statement on Thursday. So long, that is, as they also offer at least one plan that does meet all of the ACA's mandates.

It may sound good in theory - free markets and freedom of choice - and it's an idea that has always been popular with conservatives. Ever since Cruz began discussing his proposal, and especially since it became apparent that Senate GOP leaders meant to add it to their bill, a chorus of independent experts, industry officials and trade groups has criticized it and warned of its potential effects. The result would be skyrocketing premiums for the higher-risk insureds, under-subsidized by healthy people. "Well, it does. For healthy people".

There are some reasons to think that the version of the Cruz amendment that showed up in Thursday's draft wouldn't be quite such a boondoggle.

Earlier this week, America's Health Insurance Plans, which represents USA insurance companies, warned that the Lee-Cruz proposal would destabilize the insurance markets, potentially wipe out coverage for many with pre-existing conditions, and jeopardize the entire insurance system.

"Millions of more individuals will become uninsured", the insurer organizations said, concluding that "we strongly oppose this provision". Leaving aside myriad complexities of insurance markets, ideally it balances out.

"Unfortunately, this proposal would fracture and segment insurance markets into separate risk pools and create an un-level playing field that would lead to widespread adverse selection and unstable health insurance markets", AHIP said.

"This is particularly true for patients with pre-existing conditions - who would be most affected and potentially lose access to comprehensive coverage", as marketplace premiums "rise much faster than under existing market conditions and insurance options dwindle", the memo continued. So can individuals on such a plan who are diagnosed with a serious disease like cancer.

Indeed, on Wednesday, a key conservative holdout, Kentucky Republican Sen, Rand Paul, told reporters any effort to address moderates' concerns over Cruz's proposal would make the bill even more unpalatable to Paul.

"Imagine if vehicle insurance companies were required to charge everyone the same auto insurance rate regardless of how likely they were to get into an accident", Lee, a Utah Republican said Wednesday night, The Salt Lake City Tribune reports. Some of the pre-existing conditions that insurers declined coverage because of before the ACA, according to the foundation, include diabetes and heart disease, which affects millions of Americans. But depending on what they purchase, it wouldn't guarantee them the ACA's consumer safeguards.

The Cruz amendment would worsen the situation, the executive said.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is expected to release its analysis of McConnell's revised bill early next week, including an assessment of Cruz's plan.