Medicaid reform, if passed as part of comprehensive healthcare measures that are now in the hands of the Senate, could mark the "first meaningful entitlement reform in the modern decade," but if the Senate fails to approve Obamacare repeal and replace measures, that could be "catastrophic" Sen. Ted Cruz said Saturday.
"It has the potential of having a huge impact on the fiscal strength of our country," the Texas Republican told economist Larry Kudlow on his WABC radio show, while admitting that it will be complicated to solve the issues surrounding Medicaid expansion.
"There are not only ideological differences, but parochial differences" among Republicans from different states, Cruz explained. "You have some of the states that have expanded Medicaid, other states have not, and no senator wants to see their state get the short end of the stick."
At any rate, it is going to take some time before the Senate has a bill ready to return to the House, Cruz said.
"I think it was a positive step of the House this week to reach an agreement and vote the repeal bill out," Cruz told Kudlow. "In the Senate, we have a difficult task ahead of us. We have a very narrow majority, just 52 Republicans, and need at least 50 to pass the bill."
As the matter is a "deliberative process," it could take several weeks or even a "couple of months" before the Senate returns a bill to the House, and if that doesn't happen, it would prove "catastrophic."
"For seven years the Republicans have been promising, 'If only you elect us, we’ll repeal ObamaCare,' " Cruz told Kudlow.v "I think the consequences of failure would be catastrophic. But it’s going to take senators across the Republican conference being willing to sit down in good faith."
The main key, said Cruz, is finding a way to lower insurance premiums.
"If you look at under Obamacare, the average family's premiums have risen over $5,000 a year," the senator said. "That's the main reason people are so furious with Obamacare."
The first and most important way to lower the premium costs is to roll back Title I mandates included in Obamacare.
"There are 12 Title I mandates in Obamacare," said Cruz. "The original House bill repealed only two of them and kept in place 10 of the 12 insurance mandates. That's the main reason so many conservatives were displeased with the first version, because it didn't drive down premiums. The compromise that was reached in the House between conservatives and moderates, between the Freedom Caucus and leadership, allows states to opt out."
Other key steps would allow the purchase of insurance across state lines, creating a "true 50-state marketplace," allowing people in small markets or individuals to join together in large groups to get better rates, letting people pay their insurance premiums through their health savings accounts, and looking for proposals for tort reform, said Cruz.
Obamacare, he continued, is the "single biggest jobs killer in this country," and changes to the insurance law will also boost the nation's economy, said Cruz.
"I do small business roundtables all over the state of Texas and sit down over and over and over again, with small business owners, and I've never done a small business roundtable when at least half of the small business owners around the table didn't list Obamacare as the single biggest challenge that they face in their business," said Cruz. "We've got to fix that and I think in time once we come together and come to consensus I hope and believe that's what we are going to do."
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