WASHINGTON (WCBD) – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), a supporter of repealing Obamacare, has signed on as a cosponsor of the Patient Freedom Act of 2017. The legislation is the second half of the Obamacare Repeal and Replace effort Graham has long supported.
“This legislation transfers power from Washington back to patients and the states,” said Graham. “It ensures those with preexisting conditions can get coverage. It empowers patients by making enrollment easy, encourages price transparency, and eliminates burdensome mandates.”
“Obamacare has been a disaster and Americans deserve better,” said Graham. “I look forward to repealing and replacing Obamacare. The Patient Freedom Act is a great start.”
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PATIENT FREEDOM ACT OF 2017:
• Repeals: This proposal repeals five burdensome federal mandates under Obamacare: the individual mandate, the employer mandate, Essential Health Benefits, actuarial value requirements, and age band requirements.
• Keeps: This proposal keeps essential consumer protections, including guaranteed issue, guaranteed renewability, no annual or lifetime limits, dependent coverage through age 26, and prohibition of pre-existing condition exclusions, and prohibition of discrimination based on health status.
AFTER OBAMACARE REPEAL, STATES WILL HAVE 1 OF 3 OPTIONS:
1. State Alternative – A state determines its own insurance regulations and receives funding equal to 95% of Obamacare tax credits and Obamacare Medicaid expansion funding in the form of either 1) a per capita block grant or 2) advanceable, refundable tax credits. Tax credits will be age-adjusted and means tested.
2. No Federal Assistance – A state does not receive any money for tax credits or Medicaid expansion.
3. Keep Obamacare – A state re-imposes all of Obamacare’s mandates, exchange plans, and federal premium and cost-sharing subsidies.
The proposal provides financial assistance to legal residents of the United States not receiving income tax benefits from having employer-sponsored insurance, and who do not have Medicare, Medicaid or other government-funded health care. The goal is to provide roughly the same federal benefit that those with employer-sponsored insurance receive to those who do not have employer-sponsored insurance.
Each state will receive the funds that it would have received under Obamacare if 95% of everyone eligible for subsidies enrolled. In addition, the state will receive the money that it would have been given for a Medicaid expansion. If states choosing this option have already expanded Medicaid, the state could either keep its Medicaid expansion or convert it to subsidies to help individuals purchase private insurance.
DISTRIBUTION OF FUNDS:
The money will be deposited directly into an individual’s Roth HSA to assist in the purchase of healthcare. States will have the option to either receive the total sum of money for administration by the state, or to have the Federal government directly administer and give a tax credit to qualifying individuals. States will have the option to auto-enroll individuals as well. If auto-enrollment is selected, individuals will be able to opt-out of coverage. The auto-enroll feature eliminates the need for either an individual or employer mandate.
HEALTH CARE BENEFIT DESIGN:
All individuals receiving the healthcare credit would receive a Roth Health Savings Account (HSA), a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), and a basic pharmacy benefit plan. The only mandated benefits would be those required of ERISA plans. There will be continuous coverage protections, as well as the essential consumer protections listed above. Beyond that, regulation of the insurance market reverts to the state.
EXPAND HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNT:
On a federal level, HSA laws will change to allow HSAs to pay for health insurance premiums, for family members to pool dollars to pay for increased expenses, and to allow insurance companies to offer HSA/HDHP policies, which cover all inpatient services.
To make HSAs more useful, providers receiving payment for HSAs will be required to publish “cash prices” for services paid for with an HSA or with cash. In order to protect those who do need emergency services, this bill calls for limited out-of-network surcharges for emergency medical services paid for with an HSA.