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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

A controversial idea championed by Sen. Ted Cruz will be included in today's draft of the GOP health care bill, according to three sources familiar with the bill. It's similar to the provision Cruz worked on with Sen. Mike Lee, but Lee hasn't seen the bill yet and is not yet sure whether he supports it, according to his office.

  • The Consumer Freedom Option allows insurers selling plans compliant with Affordable Care Act regulations to also sell non-compliant plans. The provision will be in brackets, the sources say, meaning it's incomplete and subject to edits or removal. However, the Congressional Budget Office is still analyzing two versions of the bill, one with the provision and one without.
  • Why this matters: Critics say this would undermine consumer protections like the ACA's essential health benefits and ban on charging sick people higher premiums. That's because healthy people will likely choose noncompliant plans, while sick people will keep plans with more protections for them, fragmenting the market and raising premiums for those with pre-existing conditions. Supporters of the idea say sick people will be insulated from higher premiums by subsidies and the bill's stabilization fund.
  • What we're watching: The majority of industry and consumer groups have come out against the provision, as have many moderate Republicans. The provision may not survive the intense criticism it's about to get. It also may not comply with Senate budget rules, which will be determined sometime before the bill goes to the floor.

Here's what else know will be in the revised bill, per a Senate GOP leadership summary:

  • An additional $70 billion to help states stabilize their markets and offset the costs of covering expensive patients — on top of more than $100 billion that was already there.
  • $45 billion to fight the opioid epidemic.
  • A provision allowing people to use tax-preferred health savings accounts to pay their premiums
  • Changes to the ACA that would let more consumers use tax subsidies to buy plans that only offer catastrophic coverage.
  • The bill would no longer repeal two of the ACA's tax increases on wealthy families, and it won't include a new tax break for health-care executives.

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.

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