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Cruz “Freedom Option” No Longer In Senate Health Care Bill

Cruz “Freedom Option” No Longer In Senate Health Care Bill

“This draft imposes ObamaCare’s ‘single risk pool’ price controls on ‘freedom option’ plans”

A few days ago, Kemberlee provided an overview of what is new in the GOP’s revamped health care bill.  One thing that has turned out to be absent from the new version is the Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) “Freedom Option” touted by conservatives and a lynchpin in scoring skittish conservative Senators’ votes.

On July 14th, the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and Blue Cross sent a letter to Senate leadership urging them to drop the Freedom Option.

As the U.S. Senate considers the Better Care Reconciliation Act, AHIP and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association urge the Senate to strike the “Consumer Freedom Option” from the bill. It is simply unworkable in any form and would undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical
conditions, increase premiums and lead to widespread terminations of coverage for people currently enrolled in the individual market.

It appears that this advice was followed because the Freedom Option no longer appears in the Senate bill.

Cato Institute reports:

The other day, I wrote a piece lauding an amendment Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was proposing to add to the Senate GOP’s health care bill. Cruz called it the Consumer Freedom Amendment. If insurers offered two ObamaCare-compliant plans to all comers, the Cruz amendment would have freed them to sell–and freed consumers to purchase–health-insurance plans that did not comply with those regulations.

The legislative language I saw appeared to free consumers, not from all the regulations I would like, but from enough that it would have made the Senate bill a step in the right direction. It also included more restrictions on the use of this “freedom option” than I would like, but same thing. The changes would have dramatically reduced premiums for consumers. Perhaps more important, it would have offered more comprehensive and more secure coverage to people who develop expensive illnesses than ObamaCare does.

In the newly-released version of the bill, however, the language has substantively changed.

Cato continues:

This draft imposes ObamaCare’s “single risk pool” price controls on “freedom option” plans. Long story short, that means there is no “freedom option” in this bill. Insurers probably would not even offer non-compliant plans. If they did, ObamaCare’s “single risk pool” price controls would make secure, guaranteed-renewable health insurance impossible by taxing such plans to death.

. . . .  I’m not saying there’s no way Senate Republicans can redeem their bill. I have offered ideas that might. But at this point, the Cruz amendment does not redeem or even add to the bill.

I don’t get Republicans’ sudden infatuation with price controls.

Read the detailed analysis of how this occurs here.

Cato is not alone in questioning the Republicans’ “sudden infatuation” with price controls.

The National Review thinks it’s time to stop calling the GOP efforts “repeal” because “it keeps Obamacare’s regulatory heart.”   They urge Senators to pass the bill, however, because “the alternatives look worse.”

Congressional Republicans should stop calling their health-care bills a repeal of Obamacare. The House bill is not one — it keeps Obamacare’s regulatory heart — and the Senate bill is even less of one now that it has been amended to keep some of Obamacare’s most economically destructive tax increases. And because the bill is not a real repeal, people will face some combination of higher premiums, co-payments, and deductibles than they otherwise would.

Moderate Republicans, who said for years that they wanted to repeal Obamacare but apparently never thought through what repeal would entail, are mostly to blame for these disappointing facts. Republicans have failed to make good on their promises.

But there are two further questions that conservatives should ask about the legislation. The first is whether the bill, disappointing as it is, represents a substantial improvement over the status quo. The second is whether modifying the bill in a House–Senate conference would be likely to yield better results than letting it die.

. . . . Voting for a bill that has been so demonized and distorted would pose a political risk for senators — especially since so few conservatives are truly enthusiastic about the bill and since Republicans would become part-owners of a frequently maddening health-care status quo. But the alternatives look worse. Republicans would probably have to pass an insurance-company bailout to keep Obamacare’s exchanges going if they fail to pass this bill; and some measure of political responsibility for the health-care system is inevitable given Republicans’ control of Congress and the White House.


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UnCivilServant | July 16, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Screw it. Clean repeal. No government regulations, mandates or taxes regarding insurance or health care permissable at any level. No other option is acceptable to me anymore.

Yeah, this plan is so good that the GOP has exempted Congress from the plan within the law. No plan that that won’t apply to Congress as well.

Once again, this was inevitable.

What has driven up healthcare insurance costs has been the cost of healthcare. It has been that way for the last 60 years. If the cost of healthcare is not reduced, then the cost of healthcare insurance can not be reduced. And, if you reduce the pool covered by the insurance company, then the insurance company has to raise premiums, as well as reduce covered services, to make a profit.

The Congress could repeal, or defund, the ACA and return a large portion of the healthcare insurance industry to the free market. This would result in a significant number of people losing insurance coverage. Eventually, the market will adjust to lower insurance costs, somewhat. But, the adjustment will be minor unless the government pulls out of providing or subsidizing healthcare insurance altogether. That would require eliminating Medicare and Medicaid or reducing the benefits of those programs significantly.

Does anyone think this is likely to happen?

    artichoke in reply to Mac45. | July 16, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    What you say is partly true, but what’s allowing costs to continue to increase is that insurers and providers know that they will be paid.

    You missed the point of the article, which is that the Cruz idea would have allowed price discovery, allowed us to see how much it costs to cover HIV+ people etc., by offering something different. And that would have put some downward pressure on costs for that care including the costs of the anti-HIV drug cocktails.

    Without price discovery, indirect prices will just continue to go up.

      Mac45 in reply to artichoke. | July 17, 2017 at 11:48 am

      “Price discovery” was never the issue. In fact, it is unimportant. As you note, as long as a third party payer exists, then traditional market forces will not noticeably affect the cost of a commodity.

      Healthcare insurance is a means to apply price controls to the healthcare industry. Healthcare care providers routinely accept 15-30% of the cost charged from the insurer, with the patients copay raising that by ~10% for hospitalization and by ~20% for office visits. When a hospital charges $70,000 for a surgical procedure and settles for $10,000 or less from the insurer, then the procedure is grossly overpriced. But, it is almost impossible for the individual patient to get the same deal from the hospital. He ends up being charged the full amount and buying the farm, not just the cow.

The first is whether the bill, disappointing as it is, represents a substantial improvement over the status quo.

And the Republicans walk right into the most obvious trap imaginable—tinkering with Obama’s disaster, so that the Dems can blame them for our health care insurance system’s inevitable deterioration.

The only way to avoid this trap is to have nothing whatever to do with Obamacare—except repealing it. They did fine staying out of it when Pelosi and Dirty Harry foist it on us, but they’re about to bungle everything, and reward the Dems with a “Get Out of the Doghouse FREE” card.

legalizehazing | July 16, 2017 at 6:17 pm

These motherf*ckers. They’re all f*ggots. 2018 better be blood bath for these maggots

    Was the rhyme intentional? Or are you a poet and just don’t know it?

      rabid wombat in reply to MTED. | July 16, 2017 at 8:41 pm

      It is obvious, his feet are Longfellows…..

      Add a drum machine generated beat and ya’d have a possible…
      Rap Super Hit!

      Of course he’d need an image…My suggestion…LZ-Haze…
      Baggie 3-piece suit, some big gold chains, and giant basket ball shoes

      You’d make a ton of money…Enough to pay for your own health care…and probably even…drug rehab!

What does anyone expect from these GOPe rats, anyway?

McCain undergoes surgery for a clot above his eye:

When they remove it, they’ll probably find his testicles, lost since Vietnam.

Can anybody even imagine a group of people more incompetent or ineffective than this group of idiots ?

Screw it all. Screw “replace” theater. Screw Susan Collins who wants more obamacare.

Repeal. Just repeal. Repeal now.

Well, thzt tears it. Vote “NO!!!” Or “HELL, NO!!!”.

Repeal the stinking affront to a free people we call ObamaDoggle.

Obviously, the traitor Republicans have no interest in repealing ObamaCare. Hopefully, their worse-than-useless “replacement” won’t pass, and ObamaCare will implode on it’s own.

I was willing to accept the Senate bill only because of the Cruz amendment. Now I say “hell no!”

Just sit back, with illegal subsidies stopped, and watch Obamacare implode spectacularly. Those insurance companies who didn’t want the Cruz amendment might learn a hard le$$on.

Your GOPe at work.

NO different than the commie party.

Unfortunately the only way to fix America is for a real economic collapse! It’s aleady underway and is being advanced at an alarming rate.

Strike One: Housing Collapse
Strike Two: College Debt coming soon
Strike Three: Healthcare Collapse

Three strikes and you are out!

Just curious; has Mike Pence stopped flogging the bill?

Any bets that Mr. Establishment WILL NOT sign whatever crap sandwich hits his desk and call it an historic win?

American Human | July 17, 2017 at 4:35 pm

Here is the reason the “Freedom Option” got blown up: BCBS and the other major insurance companies have paid lobbyists and grease “D” and “R” palms with re-election cash and you don’t!!!

    artichoke in reply to American Human. | July 17, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    You’re right, the big insurers had it taken out. But why? How would it hurt their bottom line? It would bring more people to buy their policies, people that are currently going without insurance.

    I think it’s more that their owners or top management like big government.