As Senate Republicans move forward with their health care bill, they may decide to keep waivers from the House bill that would harm some of the sickest and neediest Americans.
At least six Republican Senators — Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) — are either open to the state waivers in the American Health Care Act or fully support them, according to BuzzFeed and The Hill.
This is despite the fact that a Congressional Budget Office report issued earlier this week found that these waivers could make it impossible for some sick people to purchase any health coverage due to higher premiums. These waivers would make it possible for states to disregard essential health benefit standards — which require that certain kinds of care be covered by insurers participating in in state marketplaces — and community rating, which makes health care more affordable for people with pre-existing conditions. The CBO found that one-sixth of the population live in states that would likely pursue both waivers.
For states that waived essential health benefits, the CBO found that out-of-pocket spending on the types of care that would no longer be required — such as maternity care, mental health services, and treatment for substance abuse — “could increase by thousands of dollars in a given year.”
Sen. Thune, who holds the third-ranking position in the Senate told The Hill, “I think there will be some authorities for states because, like the House, we want to give the states as much flexibility as possible.”
Sen. Hatch was also fairly confident that waivers would be included in the Senate bill.
“I think the waivers probably will be part of the final bill,” he told BuzzFeed.