Cruz’s amendment to revised health care reform bill could bolster conservative support

Senate Republicans have announced their new repeal-and-replace bill to end ObamaCare ahead of a planned vote next week.

Even with compromises, many of them designed to placate the party’s more conservative factions, the legislation faces an uphill battle.

Both Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) have refused to support the measure, but for different reasons — and one further defection would see it defeated.

Collins has expressed concerns about the largely-unchanged Medicaid sections of the bill, saying after a legislative briefing that she wants it to move through the standard committee process instead of being rushed to the floor for a vote.

One notable amendment would permit insurers to offer plans that did not comply with all ObamaCare current requirements, including those requiring coverage for maternity, mental health and pre-existing conditions.

That change, originally developed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), could markedly reduce premiums for healthy people. Cruz said that if the amendment stays intact, he will support the bill.

Lee has deferred his support until he reads the amendment’s current wording, according to The Hill.

“I think this new bill represents a substantial improvement over the previous version,” Cruz told reporters on Thursday.

However, critics claim that this add-on would drive up rates for the rest of the pool, something that has proved controversial because of past GOP promises that people would not be charged differently based on their health status.

The bill also allows for $70 billion of new funding to help cover costs for sick people, which will be added in over seven years, and retains two taxes on the rich to help fund the healthcare system. It does not boost tax credits.

Senators are now awaiting the bill’s score from the Congressional Budget Office, which should be ready early next week.

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