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Republican Infighting and Cruz Proposal Dominate New AHCA Discussions

by Countable | 7.6.17

What’s the story?

Conservative senators and political groups are working feverishly behind the scenes to pull the Senate healthcare bill further to the right, guaranteeing a war of factions when Congress returns from the July 4 recess next week, reports Politico.

Why does it matter?

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have created a proposed amendment to the Senate healthcare bill, the Consumer Freedom Act, that would allow the sale of inexpensive health care plans that don’t cover mandated pre-existing conditions as long as insurers offered plans that also covered pre-existing conditions, presumably at a higher price point.

Marc Short, White House legislative director, has endorsed the idea. President Donald Trump, who is attending the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, thus far has not commented on the Cruz-Lee amendment.

The Congressional Budget Office is working on an estimate of the effect the amendment would have. Former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin doesn’t expect it will score well:

"There’s a virtue to flexibility in insurance design, but there’s no virtue to splitting risk pool. It just doesn’t sound like it would work out very well."

The CBO score for the current iteration of the American Health Care Act says that 22 million people would lose health insurance by 2026.

Moderate conservatives have staunchly opposed touching the pre-existing condition mandates at all. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) have both spoken out against Cruz and Lee’s amendment. Some, like Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), have instead proposed maintaining the taxes on richer Americans to pay for health care subsidies for the poor, but conservative leaders from the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks say that’s a non-starter.

Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may find himself next week in the same position as Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, with no middle ground between the right wing and moderate factions within his own party, and unable to garner enough votes to pass the AHCA.

What can you do?

Ask yourself these questions and then share your answers with your representatives: Do you support the Consumer Freedom Act or some similar plan to allow low-cost plans with very little coverage? Do you support maintaining the taxes on richer Americans to fund insurance subsidies for the poor? Do you think Republicans will be able to find common ground with Republicans or Democrats to pass a healthcare bill?

Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr / Creative Commons)

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