This is what defeat looks like. Exhausted, bleeding, and encrusted in the gore of the battlefield, the soldiers have fought a good fight, but all hope has left them. Enemies surround them and now press in for the kill. It’s over . . . or so they think.
Suddenly, trumpets sound in distance followed by the thunder of a thousand horse hooves. Hundreds of armored knights come over the hill and smash through the enemy line rolling it up from the flanks!
Just like that certain defeat turns into victory. The commander of the mounted knights removes his helmet, looks into the camera, and declares in his familiar nasal baritone voice: “If a health insurer offers a plan consistent with the Title One mandates, insures can also sell in that same state any other plans that consumers desire.” Thus, Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s “Consumer Freedom Amendment” saves the day for the GOP.
That’s probably a little over the top, but it is hard to get any attention these days when the POTUS twitter feed sets the standard.
But make no mistake, Senator Cruz’s “Consumer Freedom Amendment” takes the Senate GOP’s proposed ACA reform bill from a modest entitlement reform to something greater.
As Inigo Montoya would say, “Let me explain. No, wait, there is too much. Let me sum up.” If the GOP ACA replacement plan is to accomplish anything in the neighborhood of lowering health insurance costs, it has to give insurers some ability to sell and consumers some ability to buy health plans that are not ACA cookie-cutter-one-size-fits-all plans.
Cruz’s amendment would do just that. From The Hill:
"What that does — it leaves existing plans on the market but it gives new options so that people can purchase far more affordable health insurance. It will enable a lot more people to be able to afford buying health insurance," Cruz told The Hill on Thursday afternoon.
Cruz's amendment would allow insurers to continue offering plans that follow ObamaCare's "Title One" requirements, including essential health benefits, which mandates 10 services insurers must cover with no cost-sharing.
But insurers could also sell skimpier, cheaper plans that don't cover those 10 services or meet other ObamaCare requirements.
I love the “skimpier cheaper plans” descriptions. One might also call those plans “something people can afford without a subsidy.”
Will Cruz’s amendment save the GOP? I am not sure. But, it does change the GOP reform plan from something that would offer modest entitlement reform to something that would repair some of the damage done by the ACA to the health insurance marketplace.