Health insurers have been strangely quiet about undoing Obamacare. Until now

Health insurers have been strangely quiet about undoing Obamacare. Until now

It's being billed as pro-consumer, allowing freedom of choice and potential savings for many.

Critics say the measure would encourage healthy people to buy the skimpy, low-priced plans, leaving sicker consumers who need more comprehensive coverage confronting unaffordable costs.

Among the most significant changes to the Senate GOP health care bill is a move championed by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, dubbed the Consumer Freedom Amendment.

A health care fact can help frame the issue: US health care spending is highly skewed toward the sickest people. Considering that the bill was designed by a handful of men in closed-door discussions (with no public input), it should come as no surprise that the effect it would have on over 50 percent of the population wasn't a top concern.

The result would be cheaper health insurance for people who are happy to buy less coverage than current rules allow.

Those other purposes include assisting the people booted off of Medicaid due to hundreds of billions of cuts in funding for the federal health care program, easing their transition into the individual health insurance market.

"The path we've taken has made it very hard if not unacceptable to allow blatant abuse of people with pre-existing conditions", Antos said. The answer in the Cruz plan is finally market-driven, not government-mandated. As long as an insurer sold any ACA-compliant plan in a state, his amendment would allow them to also sell pre-ACA plans, too. Insurers could offer plans with reduced benefits - no maternity coverage, for example. Ted Cruz-gets Republicans most of the way there, and may actually stand a chance of passage. Look, transparency is important, especially when you're talking about tinkering with one-sixth of our nation's economy, and involving the federal government as heavily as it has been.

But the idea also has plenty of critics, including America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).

Americans have been promised that Republicans would repeal Obamacare and when we have a Republican in the White House he would sign the bill and the deal would be done. Of course, since different states ran their high-risk pools differently, they had varying degrees of success, usually pegged to how much the state subsidized the pool (Maryland's high-risk pool provided $120 million in subsidies, California's only $40 million).

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The idea quickly gained traction among desperate Senate leaders trying to count votes.

"It would seem like an undesirable outcome for an exercise meant to rescue Obamacare (markets) that are melting down", he said. Insurance expert Karen Pollitz, now with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, said several states tried a similar approach in the past, and it didn't go well.

"Unfortunately, this proposal would fracture and segment insurance markets into separate risk pools and create an un-level playing field that would lead to widespread adverse selection and unstable health insurance markets", AHIP said.

Really, it would be the old and frail individuals, people more likely to need to visit their doctor, who would take a beating.

Cannon agreed that a "few million people would see their premiums rise", but expressed confidence that Washington would provide the funds to protect them.

Cruz says that doesn't have to happen.

It is important for future fiscal survival to limit this exploding entitlement but the real Republican objective for the $772 billion in savings over 10 years is not savings, but to fund overall tax reform, again subject to "cut the poor to support the rich".

Of course the tribes want money as much as MGM does. Mr. Cruz believes the number of people without private insurance (mostly through their employers), who don't have adequate coverage for preexisting conditions is about 1.5 million people.

Over at Slate, Jim Newell assesses the latest political status of the Cruz/Lee "Consumer Freedom" amendment (which Peter Suderman preliminarily addressed on policy grounds here last month), noting that "as now proposed, [it] would cause too many moderates to flee, since it would undermine pricing protections for those with pre-existing conditions".

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