U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga) penned an op-ed published today by the National Review describing his alternative to the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare), the Empowering Patients First Act, which he introduced in Congress for the first time three years ago.
Price and his Republican colleagues have been fighting criticism from Democrats that the GOP is only critical of Obamacare but they offer no solutions of their own.
Price, who is an orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of medical practice, is one of several Republicans to introduce a competing bill to ACA, but none of them ever gained any traction.
Now that there are so many problems with implementation of Obamacare, Price is seizing the moment to discuss, yet again, his proposal.
"As Obamacare collapses around us, Democrats in Washington are offering the American people a false choice: either stick with this disastrous law or let insurance companies run the show," said Price in his op-ed. "But there is a third option — a better option — and that’s patient-centered health care. As a physician, I have practiced patient-centered medicine, and as a lawmaker, I believe our nation should be implementing patient-centered policies. That’s why, for three consecutive Congresses, I, along with dozens of co-sponsors, have proposed these reforms as a replacement bill to Obamacare, the Empowering Patients First Act (H.R. 2300)."
Price wrote in the National Review that to lower costs, the H.R. 2300 would legalize purchase of insurance coverage across the state lines to increase competition. The highlight of the article is that the plan would save $2.34 trillion over the first decade.
Another issue tackled in the bill is "defensive medicine," a practice of doctors recommending unnecessary and expensive testing to protect themselves from legal action.
Defensive medicine takes "between 26-35 percent of annual health care costs in the U.S." according to a study commissioned by Jackson Healthcare. The Patients Act includes "lawsuit-abuse reforms" that would protect medical professionals from frivolous lawsuits.
To improve the quality of care, Price said that the bill would allow the insured to keep their policy even if they changed employers, also known as insurance portability. This would allow patients to keep their doctors or attend the same clinic throughout their lifetime, if they wish to do so.
The legislation would also legalize association health plans and individual membership associations. This ability to pool with others across the country would lower costs and pre-existing conditions would no longer pose extreme financial risks to insurance companies.
Price recognized that even with the improvements in his bill, some Americans will not be able to afford health care insurance. His bill provides deductions as well as advanceable and refundable tax credits.
The Patients First Act would also get rid of requirements of the Affordable Care Act that force employers to cover services that are inconsistent with some religious beliefs, such as abortion or birth control.
"As millions of our fellow Americans suffer under Obamacare, Republicans are eager to offer a better alternative, a smarter solution respectful of all patients," said Price in conclusion. "We can improve our health-care system while reducing costs and saving taxpayers money. And we can do it all without putting Washington in control of medicine."
Price represents Georgia's sixth congressional district.
Click here to read the whole op-ed in National Review.