The Patient Freedom Act: A Roadmap for ObamaCare Opponents if Plaintiffs Win in King v. Burwell
Patient Freedom Act Moves Us Toward A Free-Market Health Care System
In Addition to Good Policy, the Bill is also Politically Savvy
Washington, D.C. - "The Patient Freedom Act provides a very good way forward should the plaintiffs win in King v. Burwell," says Dr. David Hogberg, senior fellow for health care policy at the National Center for Public Policy Research.
King v. Burwell is the major ObamaCare case currently at the Supreme Court. An opinion in the case will be handed down before the end of June.
"Initially the big focus will be on the roughly seven million people in about 37 states who would lose their subsidies," says Dr. Hogberg. "The Patient Freedom Act provides temporary relief for them and then starts moving our health care system in the direction of free markets."
The Patient Freedom Act is advanced by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Representative Ralph Abraham (R-LA). It has nine cosponsors, including Senate leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Cornyn (R-TX).
In his new National Policy Analysis paper entitled "The Patient Freedom Act: A Roadmap for ObamaCare Opponents if Plaintiffs Win in King v. Burwell," Dr. Hogberg explains how the Patient Freedom Act is both good policy and good politics.
It turns the subsidies back on through 2015. The next year, states have three choices: 1) do nothing; 2) establish a state exchange; or 3) opt in to the Patient Freedom Act.
The third option gives states access to the same amount of money they would have received under ObamaCare for exchange subsidies and the Medicaid expansion. But, under the Patient Freedom Act, states would have to give the money directly to individuals and families in the form of a "health savings deposit."
"That gives far more freedom to the individual," said Dr. Hogberg. "He can save the health savings deposit and use it to purchase care directly or he can purchase health insurance.
"Further, insurers will be able to offer and consumers will be able to buy insurance free of ObamaCare's costly mandates. Want to purchase a policy without maternity coverage? Insurers will now be able to offer that option."
This bill is also politically savvy, says Dr. Hogberg. "It gives Congressional Democrats 'middle ground' while making Republicans look reasonable compared to President Obama, who will almost surely dig in his heals and insist on nothing more than turning the subsidies back on."
Democrats who are wary of ObamaCare's electoral impact will have a way to say they voted for a bill that gives states more options, yet still allows them to save face with their base by saying they voted for a bill that lets states keep an ObamaCare exchange if they wish.
For Republicans, it allows them to help the people who lost subsidies quickly, while also saying that they are giving states options other than ObamaCare.
"If Republicans insist that they are the ones open to discussion, that they want to give states alternatives--in other words, if they play their cards right -- they could use it to portray Obama as the one who is stubborn and unwilling to come to the table to fix health care policy," says Dr. Hogberg.
David Hogberg is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research. He is author of the forthcoming book Medicare's Victims: How the U.S. Government's Largest Health Care Program Harms Patients and Impairs Physicians.
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