While no one has seen the Senate's revised healthcare bill as of yet, early indications suggest that it will include a version of a controversial amendment from Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) that has become a sticking point in the negotiations. Among other things, the amendment would allow insurers to sell plans that do not meet ObamaCare regulations if they also sell a plan that does meet those rules.
Called the "Consumer Freedom Amendment," we highlighted the main points of the Cruz/Lee proposal last month:
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.
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.
So, what else is expected to be included in the new bill? Among other things, apparently the original Obamacare taxes on investment income and the payroll tax are making a comback to help fund Medicare. Axios has more highlights:
An additional $70 billion to help states stabilize their markets and offset the costs of covering expensive patients — on top of more than $100 billion that was already there.
$45 billion to fight the opioid epidemic.
A provision allowing people to use tax-preferred health savings accounts to pay their premiums
Changes to the ACA that would let more consumers use tax subsidies to buy plans that only offer catastrophic coverage.
The bill would no longer repeal two of the ACA's tax increases on wealthy families, and it won't include a new tax break for health-care executives.
In other words, more provisions that simply make the bill look and feel an awful lot like Obamacare...a fact that Senator Rand Paul pointed out in an op-ed just yesterday in which he blasted McConnell's new bill as more or less a capitulation by Republicans to simply "keep Obamacare."
I miss the old days, when Republicans stood for repealing Obamacare. Republicans across the country and every member of my caucus campaigned on repeal – often declaring they would tear out Obamacare “root and branch!”
The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. I want to repeat that so everyone realizes why I’ll vote “no” as it stands now:
The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. Not even close.
Of course, with Senator Rand Paul a definite no and several other Republican Senators still on the fence, it's unclear whether any bill that will be presented today will have a chance of ever being passed into law.