House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled their alternative health reform plan to the current bill (HR 3962) making its way to the House floor by the end of the week. Not surprisingly, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) called the proposal an "effort to protect the status quo while attempting to disguise them as real healthcare reform."
While the full 230 page alternative is still being tweaked, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said Tuesday that its focus is on lowering healthcare costs—as opposed to expanding healthcare coverage. "We first released our healthcare plan in June and over the last six months, we have introduced at least eight bills which taken together would implement this blueprint," he said in his weekly Republican address.
Among the elements of the alternative plan are:
- Permitting families and businesses to buy health insurance across state lines.
- Allowing individuals, small businesses, and trade associations to pool together and acquire health insurance at lower prices as large corporations and labor unions currently do.
- Allowing states to implement their own reforms in addressing healthcare costs.
- End "junk lawsuits" that contribute to healthcare costs by increasing the number of tests and procedures that physicians sometimes order; these laws would be modeled after laws in California and Texas.
- Establishing a "universal access program" to guarantee access to care for those with pre existing conditions and reforming high risk pools and reinsurance programs.
- Promoting prevention and wellness by giving employers greater flexibility to financially reward employees who adopt healthier lifestyles.
- Creating new incentives to save for future and long term care needs by allowing qualified participants to use health savings accounts to pay premiums.
Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org