Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Major health insurers say bare-bones policies a nonstarter

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, supports letting insurers offer low-cost policies with skimpy coverage that he says would drive down premiums and let people buy the coverage they feel they need.

Getty Images

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, supports letting insurers offer low-cost policies with skimpy coverage that he says would drive down premiums and let people buy the coverage they feel they need.

WASHINGTON — Two of the insurance industry's most powerful organizations say a crucial provision in the Senate Republican health care bill allowing the sale of bare-bones policies is "unworkable in any form," delivering a blow to party leaders' efforts to win support for their legislation.

The language was crafted by conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and leaders have included it in the overall bill in hopes of winning votes from other congressional conservatives. But moderates have worried it will cause people with serious illnesses to lose coverage, and some conservatives say it doesn't go far enough.

Two of the 52 GOP senators have already said they will oppose the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cannot lose any others for the legislation to survive a showdown vote expected next week.

But Sen. John McCain's absence from the Senate next week as he recovers from surgery for a blood clot could complicate the GOP's prospects for advancing the legislation.

Surgeons in Phoenix removed a blood clot from above McCain's left eye on Friday. The 80-year-old Senate veteran was advised by doctors to remain in Arizona next week, his office said in a statement Saturday.

McConnell said late Saturday that he's deferring consideration of the measure.

The overall measure represents the Senate GOP's attempt to deliver on the party's promise to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law, which they've been pledging to do since its 2010 enactment.

The criticism of Cruz's provision was lodged in a rare joint statement by America's Health Care Plans and the BlueCross BlueShield Association. The two groups released it late Friday in the form of a letter to McConnell, R-Ky.

"It is simply unworkable in any form," the letter said. They said it would "undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions," increase premiums and lead many to lose coverage.

The provision would let insurers sell low-cost policies with skimpy coverage, as long as they also sell policies that meet a stringent list of services they're required to provide under Obama's law, like mental health counseling and prescription drugs.

Cruz says the proposal would drive down premiums and give people the option of buying the coverage they feel they need.

Critics say the measure would encourage healthy people to buy the skimpy, low-cost plans, leaving sicker consumers who need more comprehensive coverage confronting unaffordable costs. The insurers' statement backs up that assertion, lending credence to wary senators' worries and complicating McConnell's task of winning them over.

The two groups say premiums would "skyrocket" for people with pre-existing conditions, especially for middle-income families who don't qualify for the bill's tax credit. They also say the plan would leave consumers with fewer insurance options, so "millions of more individuals will become uninsured."

The bill provides $70 billion for states to use to help contain rising costs for people with serious conditions. But the insurance groups' statement says that amount "is insufficient and additional funding will not make the provision workable for consumers or taxpayers."

The Cruz provision language in the bill is not final. McConnell and other Republicans are considering ways to revise it in hopes of winning broader support.

Major health insurers say bare-bones policies a nonstarter 07/15/17 [Last modified: Saturday, July 15, 2017 10:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lifestyle changes to stave off Alzheimer's? Hints, no proof

    Health

    WASHINGTON — There are no proven ways to stave off Alzheimer's, but a new report raises the prospect that avoiding nine key risks starting in childhood just might delay or even prevent about a third of dementia cases around the world.

    In this Oct. 7, 2003, file photo, a section of a human brain with Alzheimer's disease is on display at the Museum of Neuroanatomy at the University at Buffalo, in Buffalo, N.Y. There are no proven ways to stave off Alzheimer's, but a new report raises the prospect that avoiding nine risks starting in childhood just might delay or even prevent about a third of dementia cases. [AP Photo/David Duprey, File]
  2. City Attorney: State won't pursue criminal charges in St. Pete's sewage crisis

    Blogs

    The St. Petersburg City Council is expected to approve a consent order later today that requires the city to spend $326 million on improving its sewer system.

    St. Petersburg's sewage crisis appears to be winding down
  3. Review: 'A Really Big Lunch' a fitting last supper from Jim Harrison

    Books

    As much as I loved Jim Harrison's fiction and poetry, I've always had a special affection for his food writing. Boisterous and erudite and opinionated and wildly sensual, it always seemed his most personal writing, slipping the veil of fiction and the rigor of poems, and rippling with humor.

  4. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn proposes $974 million budget for 2018

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn today proposed a $974.2 million budget for next year that would raise the city's property tax rate for the first time since 1989 and use the additional revenue to improve parks, expand fire service and prepare for looming financial challenges in the years ahead.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn presented his proposed $974.2 million budget for 2018 to the City Council on Thursday. RICHARD DANIELSON | Times (2016)
  5. A second chance at life, away from the game he loved

    The Heater

    Dylan Delso, a catcher for the Tampa Bay Rays' Gulf Coast League team, displays his scar at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Tuesday, June 20, 2017. On June 25, 2016 Delso fell backward down a flight of stairs, suffering a nearly fatal head injury that put him in a coma for eight days. He's finally back on the baseball field after a miraculous recovery.