Much to the White House’s credit, President Trump is supporting Sen. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee’s proposal to add more health insurance choices to the Senate health care bill. The Cruz/Lee proposal also might exclude some of the Affordable Care Act’s protections for pre-existing conditions.
On Sunday, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told Fox News, “We support Senator Cruz and Senator Lee’s efforts — this is similar to efforts that transpired in the House, and we think that it’s perfectly appropriate, his amendment; we hope it’s part of the process of bringing everybody together.” That comment by Short flies in the face of some GOP senators who were flustered by Cruz’s pitch to alter ACA’s pre-existing condition protections; one Senate GOP aide said many Republican senators were “surprised and pissed” because they had agreed not to alter the protections. Another aide added, “No matter how narrowly-proposed, wading into pre-ex is not just a ‘No,’ it’s a ‘Hell No’ for the vast majority of the Senate GOP.”
But a spokesman for Cruz pointed out that the idea didn’t suddenly germinate, that Cruz has been discussing the idea for weeks, even handing out cards to sell the idea. The spokesman asserted, “Those who are trying to make this about pre-existing conditions do not understand the policy we are discussing — this is about providing choice, flexibility, and more affordability.”
An administration source said last week, “I think we’re going to pass this. I really think they’ll bribe off the moderates with opioid money and then actually move policy to shore up Mike Lee and Ted Cruz.”
Cruz’s “Consumer Choice” proposal would allow a healthy person to choose plans without the ACA protections, which would be cheaper. Thus sick people could stay in the programs through the premium subsidies that they’d get in the ACA exchanges, instead of making healthy people pay for them. Cruz said, “If those with serious illnesses are going to be subsidized … I think far better for that to happen from direct tax revenue rather than forcing a bunch of other people to pay much higher premiums.”