The firebrand senator’s proposed amendment to the Senate GOP health care bill, focused on consumer choice, may unlock conservative votes in the Senate and House.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) once helped inspire a government shutdown. He has drawn the ire of his colleagues in the Senate, both Democrats and Republicans, on numerous occasions.
Now, Cruz may be the dealmaker that can deliver on the GOP’s holy grail since 2010: Obamacare repeal and replacement.
Cruz’s deal, according to reporting from CNN and others, is his so-called “Consumer Freedom Option.” It would “add a provision that says that any insurance company that offers at least one plan that meets the [Obamacare] mandates can also sell any other plans that consumers desire.”
In effect, CNN reported, this would allow consumers to purchase plans with lower premiums, but with higher deductibles and less comprehensive coverage.
Conservative groups like Heritage love the idea, because it will lower premiums for some. Health groups like Kaiser don’t like the idea, warning it will create a two-tier system where healthy people purchase bare-bones plans and sick people purchase comprehensive plans, driving up costs for the latter group.
THE WHIP COUNT
But, The Hill reported, Cruz’s proposed amendment could be key for getting conservatives on board with the Senate GOP health care bill, in both the upper and lower chambers.
First the bill must pass the Senate, and Cruz’s amendment may get on board current “no” or “undecided” votes like Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Then, Cruz’s amendment may make the Senate bill, which will likely keep more of Obamacare than the House bill, easier to swallow for House conservatives.
The Senate GOP is scheduled to take up its bill again after the July 4 recess, on Monday. They will have a few weeks to act before the Senate is scheduled to break for about a month in August.
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