- The Washington Times - Friday, July 7, 2017

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Friday hit back at Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer for labeling his latest health proposal a “hoax,” saying Democrats made a series of promises about their signature health program that have fallen flat.

“Chuck Schumer knows a lot about healthcare hoaxes — because the real hoax is the one he and Barack Obama sold to the American people when they first rammed through Obamacare,” Mr. Cruz, Texas Republican, said in a lengthy retort, accusing Democrats of issuing a “litany of lies” to push their law through in 2010.

He pointed to Americans who lost plans that didn’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s coverage requirements, the fact premiums are rising instead of falling on Obamacare’s exchanges and, in “the ultimate insult,” a policy architect’s claim that Democrats relied on the “stupidity of the American voter” to get their law through Congress.

Republicans who grabbed every lever of political power in November are struggling to replace Obamacare with something better, however.

The Congressional Budget Score is expected to score an amendment by Mr. Cruz that would let insurers offer plans that do not comply with Obamacare’s coverage regulations so long as they offer at least one plan that does.

Conservatives say allowing consumers to buy the type of coverage they want is the best way to drive down premiums, though opponents say consumers will pay less for skimpier benefits, while those who still want or need the type of robust coverage mandated by Obamacare will have to pay more.

“It would give consumers the freedom to choose more affordable plans that better meet their individual health care needs,” Mr. Cruz said.

Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, issued a statement Thursday designed to blunt any momentum around the idea. He said sicker Americans would be segmented to a pool with ever-rising costs, since healthier people will gravitate toward the cheaper, barebones plans.

“Americans with pre-existing conditions will almost certainly be left without access to affordable and quality health care, making this even worse than the House bill on this issue,” Mr. Schumer said. “The only way to truly improve our nation’s health care system is for the Trump administration to stop sabotaging the marketplaces and for Republicans to finally heed Democrats’ requests to come together and work in a bipartisan way.”

Conservatives are warming to Mr. Cruz’s idea, saying if Republicans refuse to deliver an outright real bill, it would be the next best thing.

Moderate Republicans might balk if the plan as rising costs for people with preexisting conditions, however especially if the CBO comes back with an ugly score.

Mr. Cruz said the exchanges have “very significant subsidies” and Republicans are offer stabilization funds to offset costs that might rise from segmenting the market.

“Far better to have it through direct tax revenue and let the people who are struggling pay a much more affordable premium,” Mr. Cruz told reporters.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled Thursday that Congress will have to patch up Obamacare’s ailing markets if Republicans cannot smooth over their differences and pass a replacement plan.

His remarks to a Rotary Club luncheon in Kentucky were an implicit signal to his troops that if their 52-seat majority can’t rally around a fast-track bill, the alternative is to work with Democrats to patch up the law they’ve railed against for seven years.

Mr. Cruz, meanwhile, echoed an idea floated by Mr. Trump — if Republicans cannot settle on a replacement plan, the best option to to gut the law now and work on the issue over the next year or two.

“If we cannot bring the conference together and agree on repeal legislation, then I think President Trump’s absolutely right that we should pass a clean repeal,” Mr. Cruz told reporters in Austin, Texas, according to the Washington Post.

Like Mr. McConnell, however, he said failure to provide relief from wobbly insurance markets is not an option.

“For seven years, Republicans have promised the voters we would repeal this disastrous law and replace it with patient-centered solutions that would lower costs and increase choice,” he said. “We have to deliver on that promise.”

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