The Cruz Amendment Would Gut Protections for Pre-Existing Conditions

Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom via ZUMA

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The latest health care hotness from Republicans is the Cruz Amendment. Official text hasn’t been released yet, but the basic idea is simple: it would allow states to reduce the essential benefits guaranteed by Obamacare as long as every insurer offered at least one plan that covered everything. It’s worth making clear exactly what this would accomplish.

Let’s use an extreme example to make it easy to see. Suppose an insurer offers two policies:

  • Policy A doesn’t cover cancer or pregnancy or heart attacks or diabetes or prescription drugs that cost more than $100 per month.
  • Policy B covers everything.

What happens? Nearly everyone who’s pretty healthy buys Policy A, because it’s much cheaper. Everyone who’s pregnant or over 50 or already sick has to buy Policy B, which would be astronomically expensive. And that’s the end of our example. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

If you have a pool of people who are all, almost by definition, either old or sick with expensive illnesses, premiums for that group are going to be enormous. Maybe $10,000. Maybe $20,000. In theory, the poor could still afford this since the Senate bill includes subsidies similar to Obamacare’s, but in reality these policies would have very high deductibles, making them prohibitive even for low-income workers. In other words, without actually saying that pre-existing conditions aren’t covered, the Cruz Amendment effectively means that pre-existing conditions aren’t covered.

This is not controversial. Conservatives understand it as well as liberals do.

The Cruz Amendment is one of those things that sounds like a good “compromise” to people who care only about politics. Some senators want cheap premiums. Some senators want full coverage. The Cruz Amendment has something for everyone! But to anyone who knows or cares about health care, it’s no compromise at all. It’s just something that would make a bad plan even worse without helping much of anyone.

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Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

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