Republican senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are pushing for an amendment to the Senate GOP’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) that would substantially alter the current landscape of health-insurance regulation. They believe their amendment, which aims to give insurers much more freedom to offer any kind of product they want to customers, would go a long way toward restoring a free market to health care, and would result in lower premiums for millions of consumers.
The strong commitment of these senators to this particular amendment, and the insistence on its inclusion in the Senate bill by conservative groups, reveals a broad misunderstanding among conservatives of what is wrong with health care in the United States, and what is needed to build a market-driven system.
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Now that the ACA is on the books, and the private-insurance options are on shaky ground, there’s no real reason for proponents of the ACA not to fully embrace the public option. It’s what most of them wanted all along, and the turbulence among the private insurers provides the perfect excuse to pursue it.
The fact that introducing a public option at this stage would only add to the instability of the private options offered on the exchanges is not a reason for the public-option advocates to abandon the idea because they never really wanted a functioning private-insurance marketplace anyway. The goal all along has been government-run health care, even if they haven’t always been willing to admit that.
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