Senate Republicans are considering changes to their bill to repeal Obamacare, but there isn’t a clear path yet to getting 50 votes.
While lawmakers answer questions about health care back in their home states this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is waiting for scores of two different versions of the health-care bill from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). One version is said to include an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) that would allow insurers to sell less expensive plans that don’t comply with the current law, as long as they also offer plans that do comply with Affordable Care Act regulations protecting people with pre-existing conditions.
It’s still unclear if the Cruz amendment will be added to the final Senate health-care bill, but the proposal is winning some support from conservative lawmakers in both the Senate and the House. Cruz said at a town hall event this week that his “Consumer Freedom Amendment” would give consumers more choices and drive down premiums.
“We’ve got to honor our commitment to repeal Obamacare,” Cruz said. “What’s absolutely critical is that we have to lower premiums.”
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, said this week he could support the Senate bill if the Cruz amendment is included. “I think it gives everybody some options,” Meadows said of the proposal.
Senate leaders say they are getting closer to consensus, but it’s unlikely they will hold a vote on a health-care bill as soon as they get back to Capitol Hill next week. More likely, McConnell will continue deal-making to appease both conservatives and more moderate Republicans and hope to hold a vote in late July.
“We’re making progress on it,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX). “Until everything’s decided, nothing is decided.”