Center for American Progress

PRESS CALL TODAY at 10:30 a.m. ET: Leading Health Experts, Former White House Staff Demand HHS Release Details on Cruz Amendment Analysis
Press Advisory

PRESS CALL TODAY at 10:30 a.m. ET: Leading Health Experts, Former White House Staff Demand HHS Release Details on Cruz Amendment Analysis

Washington, D.C. — With Senate negotiations ongoing, a vote on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal as well as the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the Center for American Progress will host a press call TODAY, July 21, 2017, at 10:30 a.m. ET with health care leaders discussing the consequences of proposed changes to the ACA. Participants will include Andy Slavitt—former director of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services and former McKinsey and Co. consultant—and Bob Kocher—former special assistant to the president for health care and economic policy on the National Economic Council and former McKinsey and Co. consultant—both of whom have raised concerns about an analysis from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’s polarizing amendment to the BCRA.

The amendment would allow insurers to sell health care plans that do not offer the protections provided under current law. Most health care experts and industry leaders agree that the provision would send health care markets into a death spiral.

McKinsey and Co. was reportedly contracted by the HHS to assess the impact Cruz’s amendment would have on markets.


Andy Slavitt, former acting administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; former consultant, McKinsey and Co.

Bob Kocher, former special assistant to the president for health care and economic policy, National Economic Council; former consultant, McKinsey and Co.

Topher Spiro, vice president of health policy, Center for American Progress

Emily Gee, health economist, Center for American Progress

WHEN: Friday, July 21, 2017, 10:30 a.m.

RSVP to Devon Kearns at [email protected].
Call-in details available upon RSVP.

More details on the HHS report:

This is not a formal score.

  • The HHS analysis applies the Cruz amendment to the ACA without considering changes that occur under the main provisions of the BCRA.
  • HHS Secretary Tom Price’s administration has a track record of distorting the numbers related to the ACA, including repeating claims that failed The Washington Post’s fact check.

Even in the HHS’ model, the Cruz amendment has negative consequences.

  • Cruz plans have hidden costs. Low premiums come at a price. Even the HHS’ model assumes that noncompliant plans have an annual deductible of $12,000.
  • The Cruz amendment splits the risk pool. The HHS’ “single risk pool” scenario shows stark risk segregation between the ACA and noncompliant plans, confirming what actuaries and other experts have been warning. The young, rich, and healthy would end up in one type of coverage, while those who are sicker and older would be in another.

The HHS lacks transparency.

  • The HHS slides lack even basic background information: What model did the HHS use?  What were the underlying data sources?
  • The HHS does not disclose the model’s pivotal assumptions—about how consumers would respond to changes in insurance benefits and premiums—by calling the information “proprietary.”
  • The U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO), by contrast, has a public list of its expert adviser, is clear about what data and model it uses, and uses consistent assumptions across its work.

The HHS’s results are based on questionable assumptions.

  • The HHS assumes that “an adequate number of issuers”  offer all plan types, despite industry experts’ warnings that the Cruz amendment is simply unworkable. Honest analysis does not assume the desired conclusions.
  • The HHS compares the Cruz plan to “current law,” but its projections for ACA enrollment and premiums in that baseline are inexplicably gloomier than projections by the CBO and others.
  • “Consumer Freedom Option” scenario is not the BCRA. The HHS assumes that ACA subsidies stay in place in all scenarios. But the BCRA repeals cost-sharing reductions and reduces the generosity of premium tax credits for many enrollees.