TRANSPORTATION, TREASURY, AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005 -- (House of Representatives - September 21, 2004)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 770 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, H.R. 5025.
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment.
First of all, this concern was already addressed in this plan design. The gentlewoman from the District of Columbia (Ms. Norton) says this is going to have a huge adverse selection, that all of the wealthy and all of the healthy Federal employees are going to run to these health savings accounts, and we are going to have a death spiral in the Federal employee health benefits situation.
Number one, all of the data that is coming out that is bearing fruit from the imposition of HSAs are proving that to be untrue. What we are finding out is the opposite is happening. Older folks and people with more health risk profiles are those who are buying health insurance.
Mr. Chairman, 42 percent of the people who have bought HSAs this year, according to eHealthInsurance, are people who did not have insurance.
Fifty-six percent of the people who bought HSAs are people over the age of 40 years old. We are finding that this is a good tool for people who are the very people who are vulnerable in our system. But more importantly, just in case there was concern that there was any legitimacy to this claim, the folks at OPM devised this system so that the premiums are basically the same as any other premium, so that they do not have a big, tiered premium, so that they have a huge discount on these higher deductible HSA plans versus other traditional plans within the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan, so they will not have that drain.
But more importantly, what this amendment does is it denies Federal employees choices. It takes one product that they now have as a choice, an option, and say they have got to take it or leave it for 3 years; for 3 years this is all they can have. They cannot participate in open season like they always could, like the other people in the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan, but it does not apply these limits to the rest of the programs.
So we are saying to all these Federal employees we have this new option, a choice, with premiums very similar to all the other options and choices. They can have it, but they have got to take it for 3 years. That is denying flexibility and choice that we have come to enjoy and appreciate in the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan.
I urge rejection of this amendment. Adverse selection is not occurring with these products.
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