Senate votes to exclude Cruz amendment from health care bill

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday night rejected a proposal by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to allow insurers to sell low-cost health coverage.

Cruz pitched his “Consumer Freedom Option” as an amendment to the GOP’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.

The plan would have let insurers sell cut-rate policies offering limited coverage. It also called for a subsidy of $100 billion, sought by Midwestern moderates, designed to help states ease costs for people losing Medicaid.

But Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., asserted that Cruz’s amendment didn’t comply with a special budget reconciliation process the Senate is using for health care.

Ultimately Tuesday, the first vote on the amendment to the GOP’s repeal-and-replace bill failed 57-43, with those voting “no” including nine Republicans. The 43 “yeas” were short of the 60 needed to advance the legislation.

Debate on the bill came after Republicans overcame a long delay in drafting a new health care bill, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The vote underscored problems Republicans will have in winning enough votes to recast Obama’s signature legislation.

The rejected proposal also included language by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to cut Medicaid funding and erase the Obama law’s tax penalties on people not buying insurance.

Support for the measure was not clear heading into Tuesday’s vote as some lawmakers expressed unease with beginning debate on a bill they didn’t fully understand or approve, the Dallas Morning News reported.

However, Cruz urged other Republicans to at least begin debating the legislation in a bid to make good on the party’s long-held campaign pledges to repeal ObamaCare.

The measure was expected to fail and was largely seen as more of a test of GOP members’ support for various proposals.

Following the late-night vote, Cruz remained optimistic.

“This was the first step in the process,” he said, according to the Morning News. “I believe we will see the Consumer Freedom amendment in the legislation that is ultimately enacted.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @perrych


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