Insurers are ramping up their opposition to a new amendment in the Senate Republican health bill that would allow them to sell plans that don't meet Affordable Care Act requirement,an effort that could add to the challenge faced by GOP leaders trying to shepherd the legislation.
That provision,backed by Texas Sen.Ted Cruz,would authorize insurers to sell coverage that wouldn't meet ACA standards on the condition that they also sell at least some plans that did. While this set up could offer healthy people less expensive policies,insurers and actuaries say it would likely prove dysfunctional over time,pushing up rates and reducing offerings for people buying the compliant plans.
In a letter sent Friday night to the Senate Republican and Democratic leadership,the two major associations representing health insurers,which don't typically send such missives jointly,said the amendment "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."
The fate of the bill is on a knife-edge. Two Republican Senators have already said the oppose it,and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.,Ky.) cannot afford to lose any more Republicans to get the 50-vote majority the legislation needs to pass. Vice President Mike Pence would break any tie. No Democrats are expected to support the GOP bill.
The letter from America's Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association may alarm moderate Republican senators who have pledged to protect coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions.But on the other side,the provision's inclusion has been vital in winning over Sen.Cruz,and it is supported by other conservatives,though some feel it doesn't go far enough to wall off the healthier market from the sicker consumers' costs.
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