JUST IN: Healthcare bill now incorporates Cruz’s amendement

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The revised healthcare bill that Senate Republicans will make public Thursday will include a version of a controversial amendment from Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) that had held up negotiations.

According to sources, the amendment would allow insurers to offer plans that do not meet ObamaCare regulations if they also sell a plan that does meet those requirements.

Centrists concerned that the Republican bill could cause too many people to lose coverage should be mollified by the addition of extra funding to try to compensate for higher costs for sick people remaining in the ObamaCare plans.

Critics claim that the Cruz–Lee amendment would result in skyrocketing costs for sick people remaining in the ObamaCare plans as healthy people switch to minimum-coverage plans that are more affordable.

In order for the bill to pass in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) almost certainly needs the support of Cruz and Lee.

McConnell is unlikely to obtain the votes of Republican Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Susan Collins (Maine), which mean he could not afford another defection and still have Vice President Pence break a 50-50 tie.

A number of centrist Republican votes are not guaranteed, and accommodating their concerns as well as those of Lee and Cruz is challenge.

The revised bill will reportedly include the Cruz–Lee amendment in brackets, an indication that it is subject to change or removal.

Conn Carroll, a spokesman for Lee, said Lee did not assist in writing the revised amendment being included in the bill and has “no idea” what it says. Until Lee reads the text, he will not know if he will vote for the motion to proceed.

A person briefed on language of the amendment said that it would place people who purchase qualified health plans and plans free from federal regulations into “a single pool,” referring to a unified risk pool. Such a provision could limit how much the reform would reduce the costs for people who buy minimum-coverage plans.

With the exception of the amendment and the extra funding, the revised bill is expected to be much the same as the one released by Senate Republicans in June.

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