The Shadow of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas is cast onto the ceiling as he speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Guess Who May Be Taking the Lead on Healthcare (This is Good News)

It was really no surprise to any politically savvy observer when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed a vote on the Senate Republican healthcare bill until after the July 4 Congressional recess. With Democrats maintaining bitterly partisan opposition to any bill that attempts to correct the disaster that is Obamacare, and six Republican Senators announcing their discontent with the current state of the bill, McConnell had no reason to push a vote.

Following the announcement, while the left rejoices another victory of obstruction in the era of Trump, Republicans must start doing some heavy lifting behind the scenes to craft a bill that their full caucus can support. And in so doing, it appears that the Party may be turning to perhaps the unlikeliest of mediators, a man who had previously established his reputation as a contentious outlier constantly serving as a thorn in the side of party leaders, Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

“I want to get to yes, but this first draft doesn’t get the job done,” Cruz said last week. “Over the next week and beyond, I will continue working to bring Republicans together to honor our promise, repeal Obamacare, and adopt common-sense, consensus reforms that can actually be passed into law.”

And Cruz has been as good as his word, doing much more than simply voicing discontent and then sitting back to let others fight it out. Shedding his reputation as one of the Senate’s most contentious members, he has already suggested one possible middle-ground compromise: an amendment allowing insurers to offer some plans that don’t comply with Obamacare’s mandates, as long as they maintain at least one plan that does conform to the requirements.

This is a clever compromise on the part of Cruz. By mandating that insurance companies offer at least one plan that conforms to the Obamacare requirements, he takes away the argument of those who say Republicans are “stripping healthcare” from citizens currently enrolled in an Obamacare policy. But by allowing companies the freedom to offer an eclectic array of different policies that cater specifically to the market demands on healthcare he’s doing two things:

  1. Ensuring that premiums will decrease for the less-mandated, less-regulated plans.
  2. Ensuring that Obamacare plans will eventually disappear because of their onerous impracticality – nobody will want them when they have options.

This is why even conservatives who rightly recognize that the word “compromise” has often been synonymous with the word “capitulation” for them in recent years, should be encouraged. In those raw deals the mediator has been a centrist, someone whose purpose is to bring in enough Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe votes to offset the loss of diehard conservative votes like the obstinate Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul. This time, it’s Cruz himself who is doing the mediating.

That leaves a better than likely chance that the “compromise bill” is going to contain far more conservative elements than the current one sitting on McConnell’s desk.

That’s good news not just for conservatives, but for the American healthcare consumer, as the man taking the controls of this legislation is someone committed to more freedom for consumers. More freedom = more competition = lower prices and better coverage.  You want to kill the tragedy of Obamacare and strangle the socialist medicine scheme quickly?  Giving people a taste of a real healthcare market is exactly how you do it.

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Peter Heck

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