Senate's consumer choice idea could hike premiums

We are writing to urge you to strike the "Consumer Freedom Option from the bill".

Jason Pye, the vice president for legislative affairs for FreedomWorks, noted that every Republican senator except for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., is expected to allow insurers selling individual plans that comply with Obamacare rules to also sell "non-compliant" plans in the same states. According to government estimates, 5 percent of the population accounts for almost half of health care spending. The traditional idea behind insurance is that the healthy subsidize the sick. Allowing insurers to offer cheap coverage plans, the theory goes, will entice more people to get covered. Insurers could offer plans with reduced benefits, no maternity coverage, for example.

David McIntosh declared that Senate Republicans must take action to repeal Obamacare.

Prior to choosing a fixed-indemnity insurance plan, it's important you understand what such a health plan entails.

At the time, the system favored young, healthy people who wanted to buy cheaper plans without all the frills.

The health insurance industry's largest trade group is warning that a proposed amendment to the Senate's healthcare bill could not only destabilize the individual marketplaces, but also harm patients with pre-existing conditions.

In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, David McIntosh, president of the conservative Club for Growth, said the amendment would give people the opportunity to "opt out of Obamacare". It 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 now enrolled in the individual market. Premiums for those who need comprehensive coverage would shoot up.

The Cruz-Lee version of the bill is being touted as a potential compromise that could bring together the warring sides of the GOP by finding a way to satisfy both the most conservative members of the caucus, who want to see the ACA destroyed root and branch, and the more moderate members who don't want to be accused of throwing millions of Americans off of their health insurance coverage.

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"You have the possibility of two different risk pools", explained economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a longtime Republican adviser. "If they are not heavily subsidized, they run the risk of becoming unsustainable and going into a death spiral".

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that he hopes the legislation will be scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) early next week and approved by the end of that week. "It would seem like an undesirable outcome for an exercise meant to rescue Obamacare (markets) that are melting down", he said.

On its face, the Cruz-Lee plan seems created to avoid that problem.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 27% of Americans under 65 have health conditions that could leave them without access to insurance.

Cruz says that doesn't have to happen. But at least the pools provided a way for people with expensive or chronic health problems to have some form of health coverage. A lot will depend on how well the programs for those with preexisting conditions are promoted and administered, how insurers and consumers respond, and how much money lawmakers throw at this in the final version of bill.

The insurance industry says the Cruz-Lee approach is bad policy.

Included in the revised bill is an amendment from Sen.

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