Congressman Blackburn introduced H.R. 371, the Health Care Choice Act, on January 20, 2011 as one of the first official acts after the House votes to repeal the law. The bill currently has 79 cosponsors, including Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts.
· The Health Care Choice Act empowers consumers by giving them the ability to purchase an affordable health insurance policy with a range of options. It will allow consumers to shop for health insurance just like they do for other insurance products -- online, by mail, over the phone, or in consultation with an insurance agent in their hometown.
· The Health Care Choice Act will replace Washington mandates with interstate competition. It says that the consumer can make better choices for their health care than a Washington bureaucrat.
· Instead of requiring every health plan to carry so many mandates that it becomes unaffordable to anyone, the Health Care Choice Act frees the insurance companies to compete for your business across state lines, offering better options for lower prices.
· Nearly 51 million Americans lack health insurance. These uninsured Americans face significant hurdles in entering the insurance market place, including limited choices of insurers and inflexible benefit options. However, for most, the high cost of health insurance is the biggest impediment to getting coverage. In fact, nearly 80% of the uninsured come from families with full-time or part-time workers, and they cite the high cost of insurance as the primary barrier to accessing health coverage.
· The high cost of insurance is often increased by excessive state regulations. States have passed more than 2,100 benefit mandates, requiring insurance companies to cover services from hair prosthesis (wigs) to infertility treatments and support providers from acupuncturists to massage therapists. These state mandates raise the cost of insurance, which, in turn, increases the number of Americans who are priced out of the health insurance market.
· Certainly many Democrats will call this a race to the bottom. It is really an accelerator to competition or a "race" to quality and a better product, where families are empowered with options and the ability to pick a plan from across the country that will serve them best.
The Health Care Choice Act: Better for Doctor-Patient Relationship
· Today, we have an employer-based health care system--an ad hoc system created as a result of wage and price controls during World War II. In this system, which is a historic anomaly, the government, employers and insurance companies have become wedged between patients and the doctors who serve them.
· No longer does the patient choose their doctor--that is done by their employer who negotiates directly with insurance companies; the patient is left with the policy options given to them. Similarly doctors are not hired or fired by their patients; this too is done by their employers or more likely their insurance provider selected by their company.
· If we enact the Health Care Choice Act, the patient will be back in the driver's seat when it comes to picking their insurance. And, they will be one-step closer to reestablishing the relationship between doctor and patient.