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Sen. Flake's Support Of Cruz Amendment Meets Criticism

Arizona senator Jeff Flake says he supports a controversial addition to the Senate health care bill championed by Senator Ted Cruz, but some experts say that change, known as the Consumer Freedom Option, could backfire.

Flake’s support doesn’t mean he’ll get behind the entire Senate bill. After all, the major cuts to Medicaid — a big concern for Arizona — haven’t gone away. The amendment would let insurers bypass consumer protections and once again vary premiums based on health history or deny coverage outright.

“Healthier people naturally gravitate toward these unregulated plans, which could offer them much lower premiums," said Edwin Park with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a DC-based think tank. “Meanwhile the ACA-compliant plans would disproportionately enroll sicker people. This so-called adverse selection means in practice, people in poor health and with pre-existing conditions would face sharply higher premiums."

The legislation sets aside funding to help stabilize the market and pay for high-risk individuals, but that money ends in 2026. America's Health Insurance Plans, a national association for health insurers, criticized the Cruz option, saying it would fracture the market. A statement from Flake says it would let Arizonans choose more affordable plans while still guaranteeing federally subsidized coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.