Trumpcare’s Republican opponents are divided in their ideological objections to the bill. Conservatives want a health-care law that offers skimpier subsidies and fewer regulatory protections; moderates, generally, want the opposite.
But the Senate GOP’s dissidents share a common a political anxiety: They’ve spent years blaming Obamacare for unacceptably high premiums, and now they’re on the cusp of passing a bill that would do little to increase affordability for the young and affluent — while radically increasing the cost of insurance for older, lower-middle-class Americans.
Free-market fundamentalists like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are convinced that this problem can be solved by gutting Obamacare’s protections for preexisting conditions and minimum standards for insurance benefits. Such measures would reduce premiums for typical consumers, but also radically diminish the quality of their coverage — a trade-off that voters haven’t clamored for, and that Donald Trump has portrayed as unnecessary. And then, of course, this kind of deregulation would be disastrous for people with expensive medical conditions, whose premiums would skyrocket as healthy consumers stopped subsidizing comprehensive plans.
Republican moderates, by contrast, are pretty sure that their bill is failing to make health care more affordable because it slashes hundreds of billions of dollars in insurance subsidies for the poor, so as to finance a tax cut for millionaire investors. And so they’re suggesting that maybe their party shouldn’t do that — or, at least, should do that a bit less.
Now, Ted Cruz thinks he may have discovered a way to reconcile these divergent proposals:
Here’s the Texas senator’s big idea, according to Vox:
As long as a health plan offered at least one Obamacare-compliant plan in a state, the plan would also be allowed to offer non-Obamacare-compliant plans in that state … If conservatives get that win on insurance regulations, they might be willing to accept fewer tax cuts for the wealthy in the bill. Smaller tax cuts would, in turn, free up more money for McConnell to spend on Medicaid and insurance subsidies for poor and middle-class Americans.