Health Care Freedom Act Neglects To Free Americans From The Current Health Care Crisis

June 22, 2009 5:50 pm ET

On June 22, 2009, Grover Norquist (on behalf of Americans for Tax Reform) penned a letter to Sen. Jim DeMint singing the praises of the Health Care Freedom Act.  Evidently, Norquist and ATR are unconcerned that their proposal fails to adequately address any of the critical health care issues currently at hand.

$5,000 Does Not Cover Even Half Of What It Costs To Insure A Family Of Four

Norquist: Americans Should Purchase Health Care On Their Own.  In a letter to Sen. DeMint, Grover Norquist wrote: "The Health Care Freedom Act raises taxes on no one, and cuts taxes for millions of Americans.  While leaving all current tax relief related to health insurance alone, it creates a new tax credit for individuals to purchase health insurance on their own.  Individuals not covered by an employer, government, or other third party health insurance plan could use an advanceable [sic] and refundable tax credit of $5000 ($2000 single) to offset health costs.  In addition, health savings account (HAS) dollars would be eligible to be used to purchase health insurance premiums." [ATR.org, 6/22/09]

"The Total Premiums To Cover A Family Are Up To $12,680."  The National Conference of State Legislatures reported: "In 2008 the average fully insured individual faced an employee share of $725 for 1-person coverage and a $3,354 annual share for family coverage.  The total premiums to cover a family are up to $12,680 according to the annual Kaiser/HRET survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits." [NCSL.org, accessed 1/13/09, emphasis added]

Even If Americans Could Afford To Purchase Health Insurance On Their Own, Insurance Companies Deny Families Coverage Every Day

Americans Face Denials For Coverage From Insurance Companies Every Day.  Americans are already facing the denial of treatments from their private insurance companies, according to the Wall Street Journal. As Diane Archer, director of the Health Care Project at Institute for America's Future recently argued in the New York Times: "As any doctor will tell you, when a private health insurance plan delays or denies a physician-recommended service, it is deciding who gets care and what kind of care people get." [Wall Street Journal, 9/25/08; New York Times, 5/8/09]

Varying State Regulations Over Insurance Companies Would Be Detrimental To Americans Searching For Health Coverage On Their Own

Norquist: Americans Should Cross State Lines To Purchase Health Insurance.  In a letter to Sen. DeMint, Grover Norquist wrote: "The Health Care Freedom Act gives all Americans the tools they need to purchase health insurance as empowered consumers with options.  Families would be free to purchase health insurance offered in any state, not just the one in which they reside (which they are limited to under current law).  States would be block-granted money to create viable insurance options for those with pre-existing conditions.  The cost of care will be kept low by putting a hard cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.  Finally, the price of health care services for the first time will be made available to any patient wanting to shop around for the best care." [ATR.org, 6/22/09]

States Vary Greatly On The Types Of Regulations Imposed Upon Insurance Companies.  Bonnie Burns, Training and Policy Specialist for California Health Advocates, testified that "there is inconsistent regulatory authority from one state to another over insurance products offered for sale in each state, the premiums companies charge, and premium increases they impose. Although the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Model Act for Long- Term Care Insurance and Model Regulation to implement the Model Act serve as an advisory regulatory foundation for state laws and regulation, many state legislatures change or refuse to adopt certain provisions of those Models, if they adopt them at all...Regulatory authority and oversight as a result may be very strong in some states and minimal in others." [Congressional Quarterly, 7/24/08, emphasis added]

Individual Health Plans May Not Cover An Individual's Basic Needs.  In an article offering advice on what to do when you lose your health care, the Washington Post reported: "If you have poor health, there can be a catch: Insurers can decline to offer you a policy, exclude coverage for certain conditions or charge you high premiums. Those with serious conditions such as HIV, cancer or diabetes, as well as those with common conditions such as obesity, can feel the snub. 'In the past four or five years, I've had people turned down just because of height and weight,' says Jerry Patt, an independent agent in Gaithersburg who has been in the business for more than 35 years. 'They could be having no medical problems whatsoever, but their build was not acceptable.'" [Washington Post, 6/22/07, emphasis added]

What About The Other 23.1 Million Americans?

Norquist: Health Care Freedom Act Would Care For 22.5 Million Americans. In a letter to Sen. DeMint, Grover Norquist wrote: "The Health Care Freedom Act represents a bold new vision of free market health reform.  It would ensure [sic] 22.5 million Americans who currently lack insurance.  Its tax cuts are fully-offset with spending restraint, so it won't create new government debt." [ATR.org, 6/22/09]

Nearly 46 Million People Lack Health Coverage In The United States.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of 2007 there were 45,657,193 uninsured people in the United States.  [KFF.org, accessed 6/22/09]

  • Rising Unemployment Causes Further Problems With Access To Health Care. According to the Washington Post, "recent estimates suggest that worsening unemployment, which reached 7.2 percent last month, translates into a loss of health coverage for an additional 2.6 million people. That increase, on top of the estimated 45 million uninsured, is exacerbating a persistent problem in the U.S. health-care system: too many people who lack access to proper care." [Washington Post, 1/17/09]
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