Sen. Flake's Support Of Cruz Amendment Meets Criticism

By Will Stone
Published: Friday, July 14, 2017 - 2:18pm

Arizona senator Jeff Flake says he supports a controversial addition to the Senate health care bill championed by Senator Ted Cruz, but some experts say that change, known as the Consumer Freedom Option, could backfire.

Flake’s support doesn’t mean he’ll get behind the entire Senate bill. After all, the major cuts to Medicaid — a big concern for Arizona — haven’t gone away. The amendment would let insurers bypass consumer protections and once again vary premiums based on health history or deny coverage outright.

“Healthier people naturally gravitate toward these unregulated plans, which could offer them much lower premiums," said Edwin Park with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a DC-based think tank. “Meanwhile the ACA-compliant plans would disproportionately enroll sicker people. This so-called adverse selection means in practice, people in poor health and with pre-existing conditions would face sharply higher premiums."

The legislation sets aside funding to help stabilize the market and pay for high-risk individuals, but that money ends in 2026. America's Health Insurance Plans, a national association for health insurers, criticized the Cruz option, saying it would fracture the market. A statement from Flake says it would let Arizonans choose more affordable plans while still guaranteeing federally subsidized coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

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