New Healthcare Bill Will Include Cruz-Lee Amendment And $45 Billion To Fight Opioid Epidemic

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.

Cruz Lee


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!”


What happened?


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.


hedgeless_horseman WTFRLY Thu, 07/13/2017 - 11:12 Permalink

 Our Federal government was not supposed to be a charity.Healthcare is not an entitlement.Housing is not an entitlement.Food is not an entitlement.Energy is not an entitlement.Transportation is not an entitlement. TANSTAAFL. Senator Cruz, stop taking wealth from me, by threat of imprisonment, to buy votes for you. 

In reply to by WTFRLY

American Psycho Fish Gone Bad Thu, 07/13/2017 - 11:46 Permalink

I'm waiting for the additional rider that will include a stabilization fund for auto insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, renters' insurance, flood insurance, E&O insurance, fire insurance, travel insurance, and under-insured motorist insurance.  I think a fund about $1 trillion will cover that.  Just think about how awesome that will be when our premiums are so low.  Then we can give everyone (as this is a human right, right?) coverage for things they need and things they don't need.  Here is a better idea.  We will let .gov find and price these plans for us because what a better way to find bargains and the highest and best use of our money than by disconnecting the end user with the price?  The free market has failed, we need more Venezuela in our collective lives. /sarc (did I even need to type that?)

In reply to by Fish Gone Bad

MEFOBILLS American Psycho Thu, 07/13/2017 - 15:32 Permalink

PRICE!   I didn't see anything in the article about price?  How the hell can you become low cost at anything without knowing what your costs are? We should be able to shop and compare services, especially when we are in elastic mode (not so sick as to be desperate. ) Medical is a mixed market, which means any solution should recognize this fact.  I doubt that congress critters know what mixed markets are (it means both elastic and inelastic).  Some of the congressmen are intelligent, but they are also ignorant ... meaning they don't know things.First sniff test - if there is no price discovery, then any future system will fail - it won't be competitive.  Second sniff test - Inelastic users need to be dealt with.  The chronically ill are permanent inelastic users, so they should be removed from private health care - that way there is no cost shifting.  Government's job is to deal with inelastic markets by either regulation or owning outright.  Once inelastic users are removed, then insurance providers can better compete to find lowest price.Another group that will not buy insurance is the poor. Insurance should not cost shift to help them either.  Volunteer and public hospitals can provide substandard care for the poor, which gives the poor incentives to move their ass and become productive.  

In reply to by American Psycho

Stuck on Zero Fish Gone Bad Thu, 07/13/2017 - 12:12 Permalink

The government has been at war with drugs for years - now drugs are cheaper than ever.The government has been at war with poverty for years - now there's more poverty everywhere.The government has been helping with housing for years - now housing is more expensive than ever.The government has been helping with higher education for years - now college costs more than ever.What can government help you with today?

In reply to by Fish Gone Bad

doctor10 NAVIGATOR0832 Thu, 07/13/2017 - 14:32 Permalink

Tip O'Neill-the Democrat Speaker of the House during Reagan's tenure in the White House once observed he would never bring health care to a vote because it would destroy the successful American legislative process.

Congress historically legislates to a very small minority population-wise. There is always a K St firm acting as a lobbying "buffer" between the issue and those being regulated that serves to further expands the representation of those Americans subject to the specific regulation/legislation. They have a firm on K St. in DC they can call on to help with their representation before Congress if things are going south.

Healthcare affects the entire population. There is NO specific K St.lobbying firm for patients to assist in their representation before Congress. Only the income tax is as broadly applied-and that was incrementally implemented -with the assistant of many corporate lobbying firms-over a 100 yr time span. The problem with the income tax even today is the lack of individual citizen representation. Imagine the trauma to the country if it was first enacted in its entirety in 2015.

ObamaCare has screwed the's carefully crafted DC legislative process, assembled over several generations. It is Ir-reparable. It cannot be tinkered with. It cannot be "mended"-there is no sufficient lobby vehicle or mechanism capable of ensuring appropriate mending for the people's benefit. The only lobby's involved in the legislation are corporate-and these only represent pharma, big hospital systems and insurance companies. All of whose interests will prevail over those needs of the people/patients. It must be ended.

In reply to by NAVIGATOR0832

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah (not verified) jimmy12345 Thu, 07/13/2017 - 11:35 Permalink

My problem is that the gubmint forcibly took, and takes, over 14% of MY INCOME every paycheck so that the gubmint can give MY INCOME back to me in retirement. But the gubmint spent MY INCOME on vote buying schemes, no longer having MY INCOME to give back to me.

I'd love to have the gubmint STOP taking over 14% of MY INCOME as a forced retirement plan. Just give me what I paid in so far back to me. At 0% interest, even. I will do much better if the gubmint let me keep MY INCOME and retire how I'd like.

In reply to by jimmy12345

QQQBall Creepy_Azz_Crackaah (not verified) Thu, 07/13/2017 - 11:42 Permalink

Your Gubbermint takes 14% of YOUR paycheck so it can RESDISTRIBUTE it to others, if there is anything left after it borrows it from the TRUST Fund. .Seriously, after paying in for 50 years seems kinda fucked to now means test to collect. The healthcare system is broken... My recent blood tests were billed at $3,000 before the insurance haircut. Crazy.

In reply to by Creepy_Azz_Crackaah (not verified)

knightowl77 hedgeless_horseman Thu, 07/13/2017 - 11:44 Permalink

I don't like it at ALL, but it is better than O-Care 1.0....Currently I'm paying this shit in $1365 in monthly premiums...$6500.00 deductibles per person....If the Cruz amendment and this shit passes maybe my monthly premiums will go down enough that I can contribute enough to my HSA to actually cover my deductibles...It is BS...but it is either this very minor first step or nothing at this point.... Would I care if the US Senate blew up tomorrow?...No. But I will take this first step.....

In reply to by hedgeless_horseman

pods Jim Sampson (not verified) Thu, 07/13/2017 - 11:19 Permalink

Yes they will. But in reality, they were being blamed anyways. The (((media))) were more than happy to quote (((Chuckie Schumer))) railing about how it is the party in power's responsibility to fix this mess.  And old Chuck could, with a straight face, shift he blame to the party who didnt offer a single vote to pass it.  That is nutso!This is a grea gig.  If it works, take credit for it, if it doesn't, have your (((friends))) shift the blame 180 degrees and bombard the public with it.So fucked up!pods

In reply to by Jim Sampson (not verified)

micksavage2010 stacking12321 Thu, 07/13/2017 - 11:44 Permalink

$45 billion to fight prescription drug "epidemic". classic government. create problem. get big $ to "fix" it. wonder if they ever thought of telling big pharma to quit making the damn pills. however did the world manage without these things before? gov doesn't seem to mind banning things like cannabis (for which they have no real authority other than "because is say so that's why"), but oh, the horror of actually regulating big pharma. never happen. thieves.

In reply to by stacking12321

takeaction Swamp Yankee Thu, 07/13/2017 - 11:10 Permalink

STOP ADDING MONEY TO THIS BILL......Just Repeal Obamacare.....and let the markets go...Competition across state over.Government is not meant to be in the Health Insurance Game.These Republican fucks can't get it have the House, you have the Senate, and you have the White House....and what do you do...Nothing... (Picture a cat kicking with its hind legs...or a monkey fucking a football)Payback will be a bitch election time...Rand Paul is the only one who makes sense...AND MY GOD...STOP CALLING IT HEALTHCARE It is not fucking is "INSURANCE".  Healthcare is eating right, exercising...staying away from pesticides, drinking filtered water...taking care of your self!!! 

In reply to by Swamp Yankee

takeaction ejmoosa Thu, 07/13/2017 - 11:19 Permalink

You buy "Insurance" to protect against the unthinkable....  If you have assets...Insurance helps protect those assets.  If you don't buy it...and something happens...THAT SHOULD BE ON YOU.  No Bankruptcy out of it...the bill follows you to your grave.  You are the idiot that can't manage your life...don't put your bad choices on anyone else.When you get an inheritance....or become a real person and get on your feet, you pay the bill..Just like child support...No in Oregon, they take your drivers license for not paying.  This is how health Insurance should be (As well as pay it back!!!).  Then you would be an absolute SUPER FUCK UP not to have Insurance.  Every young healthy person would be ALL IN. Just my thoughts...but who am I?UPDATE....another thought.  If you can't afford healthcare, and we the taxpayers cover it...this bill racks up.  You need to pay it back. will take this bill to your grave.  Talk about people suddenly finding a job...imagaine. NO MORE FREEBIES

In reply to by ejmoosa

new game takeaction Thu, 07/13/2017 - 11:29 Permalink

they know all what you say. but this is about getting votes and giving something away. Rs are eyeing  2018. it will continue down the road of lowest common voter that cant afford healthcare wishes are for repeal  w/no replacement and letting the states decide how to insure uninsurables...

In reply to by takeaction