Senator Ted Cruz is working behind the scenes with a group of fellow senators on another version of the Obamacare replacement bill.
The alternative bill would allow cross-state insurance purchases, health savings accounts, the expansion of association health plans, and would include medical malpractice reform.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Senator Cruz explained that with this alternative, it could potentially be passed with only one bill, rather than the two that are being promoted by House Republican leadership.
Cruz said he has been working for weeks with the now-thirteen member group of GOP senators on an Obamacare repeal and replacement plan that would eliminate the need for a second phase of legislation to replace failing healthcare law. Instead of a limited repeal and replace bill followed by another bill later, the GOP wish-list for replacing Obamacare would be packed into a single budget resolution to repeal Obamacare that could pass with only GOP support using a tool called reconciliation.
“I believe the only meaningful healthcare reform will be through reconciliation,” Cruz told the Washington Examiner in an interview.
What is in place now is a three-piece plan, beginning with limited repeal and replace.
Secondly, the bulk portion of the repeal and replace plan takes place, with the follow-up third part being handled by the Trump administration.
Cruz (rightly) raises the concern that the plan can’t make it past the second phase, simply because it would be too difficult to get the necessary Democrat votes.
“Senate Democrats are listening to their radical left wing base of their party and so no health care reform legislation will garner 60 votes because there are not eight senators who will vote for any of the legislation,” Cruz said.
“I think the answer, very simply, is to put it all in one bucket,” Cruz added. In other words, pass everything under reconciliation, which requires only 51 votes instead of the typical 60.
But can it be done? Is it allowable?
Cruz thinks so.
“Every one of the reforms reduces premiums and has a significant budgetary impact and therefore, under the terms of the statute, those reforms are permissible under reconciliation,” Cruz said.
Cruz went on to say he has been working around the clock with members of Trump’s administration, as well as the conservative House Freedom Caucus to craft this alternative measure.
Cruz said the healthcare group, which includes the GOP leadership and chairs of the committees overseeing healthcare, is working toward finding a consensus on a repeal and replace proposal.
“The objective here, the test for success should be, are we reducing the cost of premiums?” Cruz said. “And if we have succeeded, consumers will have more choices, more options, lower premiums and more ability to get health insurance and healthcare for their families.”
The current incarnation of a repeal and replace bill has made it through the House, but still must clear the Senate, and nobody is absolutely in love with this thing.
If there is an alternative that works better (barring an absolute repeal, which is what the people were promised), then lawmakers need to have those plans waiting and ready to be put forth before the final vote is taken.