National Consumers League

NCL opposes Cruz amendment to the Better Care Reconciliation Act


Tagged:

July 18, 2017

Contact: Cindy Hoang, National Consumers League, (202) 207-2832, cindyh@nclnet.org

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) joins with our colleagues in the health advocacy community in expressing our opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) and Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) amendment, which makes a bad bill even worse. The Cruz amendment would allow insurers to sell health plans on the individual marketplaces that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) consumer protections as long as they also sold compliant plans.

NCL is concerned that the Cruz amendment would bifurcate the market, with healthy people buying skimpier, non-ACA compliant policies and sicker people seeking to buy more expensive, comprehensive plans. By thrusting people with pre-existing conditions into a separate risk pool, the amendment could result in a death spiral and a return to the pre-ACA days in which those with pre-existing conditions were unable to get affordable coverage on the individual market.

Among other provisions, non-ACA compliant plans would not be required to cover the Essential Health Benefits, such as hospitalization; prescription drugs; pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder services; preventive and wellness services; and other critical health services. Insurers would be allowed to charge those with pre-existing conditions exorbitant premiums for coverage, or deny coverage outright. They could also impose annual and lifetime limits on coverage. 

In a July 14 letter, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association expressed their strong opposition to the Cruz amendment, stating: “It is simply unworkable in any form and would undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions, increase premiums and lead to widespread terminations of coverage for people currently enrolled in the individual market.”

NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg stated: “In addition to presenting insurmountable obstacles to coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, the Cruz amendment is an invitation to fraud and the selling of junk plans where consumers pay for a policy that doesn’t cover any real healthcare services. We join with our colleagues in opposing the Cruz amendment and urge Congress to reject the BCRA and similar legislative proposals that would give a green light to fraudsters offering junk health insurance while taking access to solid healthcare services away from millions of Americans.”

NCL is encouraged by the latest news that the harmful BCRA has been pulled from Senate consideration. We will continue to work with our colleagues to protect the Affordable Care Act and oppose passage of similar legislation to the BCRA and the Cruz amendment.

###

About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.