Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he’s not worried that a vote on his amendment to the Affordable Care Act could come up before the August recess.
The Texas Republican, who is seeking re-election, said he has a vote scheduled for Wednesday and it’s not a vote that could be rushed to the Senate floor.
“I’m confident in my vote and that vote will get the votes,” Cruz said Tuesday.
“I’m worried about not having the votes to go to the floor to go through the process.”
The amendment would require insurers to provide coverage to people with preexisting conditions, but it would allow insurers to sell coverage for less than the benchmark federal plan, which is what the ACA requires.
Mike Lee (Utah), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) are among the Republicans who support the amendment.
Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) has been an outspoken critic of the ACA, but the amendment could help keep him from becoming the GOP’s presidential nominee.
“If you don’t get the support, you’re going to lose in 2020,” Cruz told reporters Tuesday.
“You need 60 votes to pass the bill.
I’m confident if I got 60 votes I can get 60 votes, but if I don’t, we’re going into the year with two more years of Obamacare.”
The Texas senator said Tuesday that he hasn’t been approached by any Republican senators about endorsing the amendment and that he has not been contacted by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
He said the Senate must pass the measure before the end of the month to avoid a government shutdown.
“This is a big deal for us.
This is a critical issue for us,” Cruz, who serves on the Senate Budget Committee, said.
“The American people want to be assured that they’re getting a health care plan that meets their needs.”
Cruz, who was among those who voted against the repeal of Obamacare in July, said the GOP should have a strategy to address the cost-sharing reduction payments in the law.
The payments, which reimburse insurers for deductibles and co-pays for people with out-of-pocket health costs, were set to phase out at the end or beginning of 2019.
The Congressional Budget office estimated the subsidies would be $5 billion in 2020, a drop from $20 billion a year earlier, and Cruz said the payments will need to be adjusted if costs continue to rise.
He said that he expects the payments to decline in the coming years, and added that he thinks the ACA has not provided enough information on how they will be paid.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty about what the costs of the [Coverage Act] will be in the future,” Cruz argued.
“We’re going through the next few years of uncertainty.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R.-Maine) is one of the Republican senators who have expressed concern about the amount of cost-shifting that could happen if insurers continue to use the payments.
“What happens to us in 2021, 2022 and beyond is going to be the biggest story of our entire political life,” Collins said last month, after a bipartisan bill was proposed to prevent insurers from using the payments and to provide subsidies to people who lose coverage.
“In 2020, we should be able to afford to do the things we’re doing now.
But we’re not going to have the resources to do so,” she added.
The Republican senator said that in 2020 and beyond, there will be “major changes” to the ACA.
“But there’s going to come a time when the country really gets to grips with what that means and what that cost is going up,” Collins added.
“And that time is not now.”
Collins, who voted to repeal the ACA in June, said it was “hard to see how this will ever be fixed.”
“If there’s any way to get the costs down, I think it’s going a long way toward doing that,” she said.
Cruz’s office said that his office had received no requests for comment from Republicans interested in endorsing the legislation.
Cruz has also called on the GOP to move on from the ACA and said that the House should “move on” to other issues.
“The House needs to move forward on its agenda,” Cruz stated in a statement.
“There are many things we can accomplish on the House side that the Senate can’t.”