Senate Republicans Have Asked CBO to Score 2 Versions of Revised Health-Care Bill

Senate Republicans have asked the Congressional Budget Office to score a revised version of their embattled health-care bill that includes Senator Ted Cruz’s proposed changes, as well as a version that does not, according to Axios. Cruz’s proposed amendment to the Senate GOP’s Trumpcare bill would allow insurers to sell health plans that do not meet the required standards of the Affordable Care Act — including the standards regarding preexisting conditions — provided they sell at least one plan that does. Cruz has already said he will not vote for the current GOP health-care plan, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), without the changes.

Cruz’s proposal could theoretically appease conservative Republicans, who want the BCRA to do more to gut Obamacare and drive down health-insurance premiums, as well as moderate Republicans, who want insurance plans to be available that maintain Obamacare’s protections for people who have preexisting conditions.

According to a GOP aide who spoke with Axios, the CBO has been asked to analyze versions of the BCRA both with and without Cruz’s amendment, and it’s not clear if the underlying non-Cruz version has also been revised from the version that the CBO released a score on last Monday. (That analysis indicated that the BCRA would cut the deficit by $321 billion but lead to 22 million people becoming uninsured over the next ten years and cut Medicaid spending by 35 percent over the next 20 years.)

As far as why they would want the dual scoring, obviously one reason would be to understand how the Cruz proposal would affect the impact of the bill, but it’s also possible that Senate leaders want a backup score in the event the Senate parliamentarian rules that the Cruz amendment is not allowable under the Senate’s Byrd Rule, which sets limitations on the reconciliation process that Senate Republicans intend to use to pass the BCRA.

This doesn’t mean that the Senate GOP has completed a deal on a new bill, but if the Axios report is correct, and either version is deemed acceptable by enough Republican senators and then makes it past the parliamentarian, a vote could happen by mid-month.

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