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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