Two of the insurance industry's most powerful organizations say a crucial provision in the Senate GOP health care bill allowing the sale of bare-bones policies is "unworkable in any form," delivering a blow to party leaders' efforts to win support for their legislation, the AP reports. The language was crafted by Sen. Ted Cruz, and leaders have included it in the overall bill in hopes of winning votes from conservatives. But moderates have worried it will cause people with serious illnesses to lose coverage, while some conservatives say it doesn't go far enough. Two GOP senators have already said they will oppose the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cannot lose any others for the legislation to survive a showdown vote expected next week.
The criticism of Cruz's provision was lodged in a rare joint statement released Friday by America's Health Care Plans and the BlueCross BlueShield Association. "It is simply unworkable in any form," the letter said. They said it would "undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions," increase premiums, and lead many to lose coverage. The provision would let insurers sell low-cost policies with skimpy coverage, as long as they also sell policies that meet a stringent list of services they're required to provide under Obama's law. The two groups say premiums would "skyrocket" for people with preexisting conditions, especially for middle-income families who don't qualify for the bill's tax credit. They also say the plan would leave consumers with fewer insurance options, so "millions of more individuals will become uninsured." (Read more health care reform stories.)