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GOP health bill would allow insurers to ignore consumer protection laws

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A new Republican health reform proposal would allow insurers to bypass consumer protection laws and remove restrictions on rate hikes, according to published reports.

In the GOP’s 230-page draft of an alternative health care bill is the following passage:

This policy may be less expensive than others because it is not subject to all of the insurance laws and regulations of the state … including coverage of some services or benefits mandated by the law of the state … Additionally, this policy is not subject to all of the consumer protection laws or restrictions on rate changes …

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The bill, which caps medical malpractice awards, additionally seeks to increase the use of health savings accounts and would create insurance pools for high-risk individuals.

Rep. John Boehner is calling the bill “The Affordable Health Care for America Act.”

A key to the expansion of coverage and choice is permitting health insurers to offer interstate policies, they claim. As Think Progress points out, under the Republican proposal the insurer can choose a primary state “whose covered laws shall govern the health insurance issuer” and can change states “upon renewal of the policy.”

Page 129 requires a “health insurance issuer” to “provide the following notice” informing consumers in so-called “secondary states” that the policy is “not subject to all of the consumer protection laws or restrictions on rate changes of the state.”

On CNN over the weekend, Boehner told host John King that Republicans seek, “a common sense approach to make the current system work better.” However, allowing insurers to ignore consumer protections could make things worse than they already are.

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Health care providers could simply choose to do business in states that allow them to charge sick patients more, attracting only the healthiest applicants. Or as Think Progress suggests, “Companies could choose a state with scarce regulations and sell policies that don’t provide mental health parity or cancer screenings.”

Boehner aides told the Associated Press the measure was not final and changes were being made.


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