Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), along with his colleague and friend Mike Lee (R-UT), introduced an amendment he hoped would save the Senate GOP's effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. The reform would allow insurance companies to sell any health care plan they want, as long as at least one plan qualifies under the Affordable Care Act.
Conservative groups like Tea Party Patriots were pleased the plan, even noting that Cruz's proposal may be what it takes to get them on board.
“Tea Party Patriots and our nationwide network of grassroots supporters have been encouraging Senate Republicans to keep their promises and pass a bill that fully repeals Obamacare and ensures the American people have more choices for health care at much lower costs," the group said in a statement. "While we have serious concerns with the initial draft of the Senate health care bill, we believe the amendment proposed by Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee offers the possibility of removing several of the most restrictive regulations in Obamacare that rob people of health care choices and drive insurance costs higher and higher. If the Senate adopts the Cruz-Lee Amendment to the health care bill, Tea Party Patriots and our supporters will be more likely to support the bill for passage as the next step in the process to repeal ObamaCare.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was not so complimentary, quickly dismissing the plan. It'll cost Americans more, not less, he argued.
"Make no mistake, the Cruz amendment is a hoax," Schumer said in a statement Thursday. "Under the guise of lowering premiums, it makes healthcare more expensive because deductibles and copayments would be so onerous that many Americans would pay much more out of their pockets than they pay today. It's a foolhardy trade to exchange lower premiums for far more expensive deductibles and copayments."
In addition to Democratic opposition, Cruz's suggestions may also not be enough of the "dramatic change" moderate Republican senators like Susan Collins (ME) are looking for. Her main concern is that the GOP version would cut Medicaid funding 35 percent compared to Obamacare by 2036, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell knows he does not yet have enough support to pass the health care plan, so the vote has been delayed until after the July recess.