AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Senator Ted Cruz has usually been a thorn in the side of the Republican establishment in D.C. but now his plan could make repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act — known as Obamacare — a reality.
His plan, the Consumer Freedom Act, would require each insurance company to offer at least one plan with Obamacare mandates and requirements, then they can offer other plans that don’t cover everything. In his view, it’s a more tailored approach to a specific person’s needs.
“It doesn’t take away any choices. The existing choices remain there. But it adds additional new choices, low cost, affordable plans, because there are millions of people, millions of Texans who can’t afford health insurance right now. But they may well want it if it were cheaper,” said Cruz, “If it were more affordable. That’s what I’m fighting to do. If we can adopt that I believe this bill will pass and I believe this will make a real difference for families who are struggling.”
He looks as his ideas as a compromise plan after Senate leaders struggled to pass an earlier version of their plan.
“Conservatives would eliminate the Title I mandates altogether. We don’t have the votes to do that. Moderates want to maintain those mandates. What the Consumer Freedom Act does is it keeps the mandates. It says in any given state there will be policies that meet all the mandates, that meets all the bells and whistles, that have the full Cadillac plans,” said Cruz.
For another view on Cruz’s plan we reached out to the Center for Public Policy Priority. Stacey Pogue is a senior policy analyst there. She says Cruz’s plan of turning current Obamacare mandated plans into a “high-risk pool” would create affordable healthcare for people with low-income because taxpayers would help pay for it.
But she warns that middle-income people in need of medical care — cancer, chronic disease, pregnant — would have two options: pay high premiums without taxpayer help in the “high-risk pool” or pay for plans on the private market that might not cover everything like before Obamacare.
“An individual making under $42,000 a year, you get help in a high-risk pool. But everybody else would be on their own and because premiums would be so high, a lot of people would be locked out, effectively locked out. And the people who would be locked out would be people who need healthcare the most,” said Pogue.
To combat that, Senator Cruz said they are setting aside more than $100 billion to stabilize the program and help the people caught in that gap. Representatives and senators return to Washington next week.
There are two major hurdles next for Cruz’s plan. One is a political hurdle: Will the Congressional Budget Office give it a bad score and sour public opinion like it did for the House of Representatives healthcare plan. The second hurdle is procedural since it goes beyond the budget process. The Senate parliamentarian will decide whether it needs 51 votes to pass or 60. There are 52 Republicans.