Republican senators are hoping to pass the Better Care Reconciliation Act — a.k.a. Trumpcare — next week, so in the past few days, there have been a flurry of amendments and altercations to the bill in hopes of securing enough votes.
But not all of these changes are improving the bill. In fact, the closer you look at the updated BCRA, the more dangerous it seems.
Perhaps the most egregious change this week was the amendment proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), which will allow insurers to offer bare-bones plans as long as they offer at least one plan that fully complies with existing Affordable Care Act regulations on preexisting conditions and comprehensive coverage. On Friday, insurers said the amendment was “unworkable in any form.”
But, somehow, it gets even worse. Not only are the bare-bones plans under the Cruz amendment so cheap that they would cause the cost for comprehensive, ACA-compliant insurance plans to skyrocket, but the Cruz-sponsored plans are also so stripped down that they don’t even count as “continuous coverage” in the BCRA.
In other words, if you are a healthy person who purchases the cheap Cruz plan because it’s more financially feasible, but then you become sick and need to upgrade to a better plan, you would be locked out of the insurance marketplace for six full months until you were able to buy a more robust insurance plan.
The Cruz amendment *could* basically destroy the entire individual health market in America. And they're gonna vote in 5 days.
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) July 15, 2017
That’s absurd, considering the six-month ban is in place so that people won’t go without insurance until they become sick, and the entire point of the Cruz amendment seems to be to keep healthy people in the insurance marketplace in the first place.
Former Democratic congresswoman Donna Edwards put a face to this problem on MSNBC’s AM Joy on Saturday morning.
Last week, Edwards penned a moving op-ed in the Washington Post discussing her battle with multiple sclerosis. She was diagnosed with the disease last summer, and was planning on purchasing insurance through the ACA when her current $800-a-month cobra plan expires next June. However, if the BCRA passes, she may be unable to get insurance due to her preexisting condition.
On AM Joy, Edwards stressed that if she had purchased one of the cheap Cruz plans last year when she was diagnosed with M.S., she would have had to go six months before being allowed to purchase the (expensive) insurance that would cover her condition.
“If I had one of these simple bare-bones plans in May of 2016, by the time I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in June of 2016, I would not have health care,” she said.
Cruz plans don’t cover prescription drugs, chemotherapy, hospitalization, or pregnancy.