GOP Proposes Health Care Bill

May 31, 2011

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The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing May 26 on proposed replacement legislation for the health care law. The hearing, “Expanding Health Care Options: Allowing Americans to Purchase Affordable Coverage Across State Lines,” was scheduled to assess legislation – the Health Care Choices Act (H.R. 371) – introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).

The bill would repeal part of the recently passed health care law related to the health insurance reforms and health coverage expansion, including, but not limited to, the health insurance exchanges and new rules that prevent insurers from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions.

The replacement is a proposal Republicans have pushed for years that would allow insurance companies to sell policies nationally, outside the purview of state insurance commissioners. Its proponents suggest national sale of insurance policies would drive down costs and lower premiums. They assert the legislation would free consumers from buying irrelevant mandated benefits that states sometime require insurance policies to carry in order to sell in their state. The bill would allow insurers to domicile in a state of their choosing and sell policies in any other state.

Opponents have argued that the proposal would lead to insurers tailoring policies for the young and healthy, cherry-picking the favorable risk from the insurance market and leaving some states and individuals with higher premiums. Additionally, those individuals buying policies out-of-state would lose many consumer protections that only their state could enforce. 

NSBA has been a long-time opponent of legislation that allows across state line sale of insurance without certain protections. NSBA commissioned two reports–the 2003 Mercer Report and a 2006 revision on the report based on a slightly different bill–which found that this kind of legislation would result in segmentation and destabilization of the small group market that would drive average premiums higher and cause fewer employers to be insured. 

There proposal is likely dead on arrival if it were to land in the Senate since it repeals part of the new health care law, and has never garnered enough support in the Senate to be viable.

Please click here to read NSBA’s letter to Rep. Blackburn.

Nonetheless, NSBA will continue to monitor the legislation. Continue to watch the NSBA Web site and theHRTT Website for more information as it is made available.