Explaining the “Cruz Amendment” in the Senate GOP’s Healthcare Plan

How the Cruz Amendment brings more conservative members into the fold, but might cover even less people.  



While the White House looks to be perpetual dumpster fire full of Russian nesting dolls, Senate Republicans still look to move forward on their healthcare bill, The Better Care Reconciliation Act. While there have been some major behind the scenes discussions by Senate Republicans in how to move forward with the legislation, the problem revolves around getting enough support behind the action.



In order to get more GOP support, Republican heads have started to add various provisions to the BCRA. Some of those new provisions include:


  • Restores the Medicare tax and investment tax on wealthier individuals.

  • Adds more subsides through direct payments or tax credits to lower income households.

  • The BCRA also adds billions to prevention and treatment programs for opioid abuse.


Most of these initiatives were added in hopes of attracting moderate GOP members to support the healthcare bill. With that said however, the legislation still does very little to curb the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment of 22 million people becoming uninsured under the BCRA, which still remains a major hurdle for some GOP senators.


Yet, even with the changes to the BCRA that hope to get more moderate Republicans on board, the most significant addition looks to be an amendment that has been added by Texas Senator Ted Cruz regarding the healthcare plans that insurers can offer. In the Senate, it’s appropriately being called “the Cruz Amendment.”



What is the Cruz Amendment and What Does It Do?


The Cruz Amendment – or also being called the “Consumer Choice Amendment” – allows insurers to sell deregulated health plans (ie health plans that don’t have the current Obamacare mandates), as long as they include plans that comply with the current healthcare laws. While in theory this sounds like a good compromise – people can choose the type of insurance that’s suitable for them – in practice, this could end up being a much bigger problem.


The fear here is that with the Cruz Amendment, insurance companies will offer plans that might be cheaper, but offer worse coverage than the ones that meet Obamacare mandates! The worst case scenario is that individuals in lower income brackets will go for the cheaper insurance plans because those are the ones that they can afford. Thus if some major medical emergency happens to these low-income individuals with bare-bones plans, that could end up being a major weight for the individual and the US healthcare system.


Or even if the Cruz Amendment works exactly how it’s intended; healthier people get the bare-bones insurance and sicker/elderly people get the more comprehensive plan, this would create a high-risk insurance pools for those individuals that sign-up for the comprehensive package. In turn, sicker/elderly individuals would end up paying much more for the plans they would need to get the proper medical care. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 1.5 million people would be paying more for health insurance under the Cruz Amendment.



While the Cruz Amendment does attract more conservative members into the BCRA fold, it still falls into the same problem that most other Republican healthcare replacement bills have; they don’t provide enough healthcare coverage for the majority of Americans. While there is no doubt, healthier individuals would be paying less under the GOP healthcare plans – especially one that includes the Cruz Amendment – but in turn, millions of sick/elderly individuals would be paying more for their insurance. It’s been a sticking point for the Trump administration and Congressional GOP that just won’t go away.



(Photo Credits: Pixabay.com, Ted Cruz Instagram)


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