Co-sponsored by Republicans critical of the House's bill, including Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Patient Freedom Act hasn't gone very far since it was introduced in January, but could play a role in Senate debates about insurance.
While there's a Senate working group (consisting almost entirely of men) meeting about health care, Collins and Cassidy planned a separate bipartisan meetup Monday, where the Patient Freedom Act was discussed. Even if the specific bill doesn't make it through the Senate, it's possible that parts of it will be adopted into whatever plan Republicans come up with, because the party needs to stick together in order to actually push a law through.
Give States 3 Options
The bill proposes giving states different options of how to regulate their individual healthcare marketplaces in order to end what the proposal calls "Obamacare's one-size-fits-all approach to health care." States could either opt to keep things the same as they are under Obamacare, create a new healthcare system using federally funded Roth Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), or form an entirely new market and stop receiving federal assistance.
Roth HSAs are savings accounts people would use to buy health insurance, and anyone not covered by Medicare or Medicaid and not insured through an employer would be eligible for federal assistance through tax credits. States choosing this option would be able to auto-enroll people in a basic healthcare plan unless they opt out.
Protect People With Preexisting Conditions
Unlike the AHCA, the Patient Freedom Act would keep in place Obamacare protections that prohibit insurance providers from turning people away because of preexisting conditions.
Get Rid of Essential Health Benefits
However, this measure mimics the AHCA in getting rid of the list of essential health benefits Obamacare requires all insurance plans to cover, which includes emergency services, hospitalization, prescription drugs, mental health services, and maternity and newborn care.
Although those benefits wouldn't be guaranteed, states choosing to forge their own path without federal funding would still have to ensure plans don't lead to excessive out-of-network charges for emergency services.
Throw Out The Employer Mandate
Along with essential health benefits, the Patient Freedom Act would also trash the Obamacare mandate forcing employers with more than 50 full-time employees to offer affordable health insurance. This means if you work for a large company, your employer could opt to stop sponsoring your health insurance.
Keep Young Adults On Their Parents' Plans
Similarly to the AHCA, this bill would keep the Obamacare protection allowing young adults to stay on their parents' insurance plans through the age of 26.
Under the Patient Freedom Act, health insurance marketplaces would vary widely from state to state, making it especially confusing for anyone who moves across state lines. While this bill might not pass (or even make it to the floor for a vote), pieces of it could be worked into whatever legislation senators decide on. Republicans have a slim majority in the Senate, so the six representatives who co-sponsored this bill have some leverage.