Cruz floats amendment to Senate healthcare bill

Cruz floats amendment to Senate healthcare bill
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE (R-Texas) wants to offer an amendment to the Senate healthcare bill that would allow insurers to sell plans that are not compliant with ObamaCare requirements. 

The "Consumer Freedom Amendment" would leave existing ObamaCare plans on the individual market, while also allowing insurers to sell plans that don't comply with requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

"What that does — it leaves existing plans on the market but it gives new options so that people can purchase far more affordable health insurance. It will enable a lot more people to be able to afford buying health insurance," Cruz told The Hill on Thursday afternoon. 

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Cruz's amendment would allow insurers to continue offering plans that follow ObamaCare's "Title One" requirements, including essential health benefits, which mandates 10 services insurers must cover with no cost-sharing. 

But insurers could also sell skimpier, cheaper plans that don't cover those 10 services or meet other ObamaCare requirements.

"If a health insurer offers a plan consistent with the Title One mandates, insurers can also sell in that same state any other plans that consumers desire," Cruz said. 

Conservatives argue that those requirements drive up prices for healthy, younger people. 

The amendment would likely result in sicker people buying the ObamaCare plans, which would likely be more expensive than they are now. 

Cruz and three other Senate conservatives said Thursday afternoon they would not support the current version of the Senate’s bill. 

He sounded a positive note that an agreement could be reached, however. 

"I have said from the beginning that there is an agreement to be reached, and I believe we can get to yes," Cruz said. 

"This current draft is only a draft. It's a starting draft. This draft isn't there yet, but we can get there. I'm continuing to work night and day to bring the conference together and get the job done."