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Utah Sen. Mike Lee Proposes Update To Senate Health Bill

Brian Grimmett
File: Utah Sen. Mike Lee

Until recently, Utah Senator Mike Lee didn’t support the Republican Senate bill written to replace Obamacare. But this week he announced a new change that could sway his vote.

Working with Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Lee is adding language called the “Consumer Choice” proposal.  

Conn Carroll, Lee’s Communications Director, says the language is meant to reduce the number of regulations that insurance companies have to include in their plans.

"Any insurance company that offers a regulated insurance plan on a Affordable Care Act exchange would then be allowed to offer an unregulated insurance plan on that same exchange," Carroll says. 

These Obamacare regulations do things like force insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions. And they require that insurers provide free preventative care and Essential Health Benefits like prescription drug coverage.

Carroll says that the change would make plans more affordable for consumers.

But Jason Stevenson with the Utah Health Policy Project says removing those requirements would create two separate insurance pools instead of one big one.

“And so you have the sick people in one pool and you have the healthy people in the other and that creates a real difficult situation where the costs for those that are sick are gonna spiral out of even the government’s ability to subsidize," Stevenson says. 

After the Senate released their Obamacare replacement last month Senator Lee said he would vote no on it because it retained too much of the old health law. Conn Carroll, with Lee’s office, says this language would change that.

"If this language is included in the bill Senator Lee would vote for it," Carroll says. 

The “Consumer Choice” proposal is currently being rated by the Congressional Budget Office.

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