RICHMOND, Va. (Feb 28, 2017) – A Virginia bill that would help facilitate healthcare freedom in the state won final approval last week and now heads to the governor’s desk.
Del. R. Steven Landes (R-Verona) introduced House Bill 2053 (HB2053) on Jan. 10. The legislation specifies that direct primary care agreements (sometimes called medical retainer agreements) do not constitute insurance, thereby freeing doctors and patients from the onerous requirements and regulations under the state insurance code.
The House and Senate passed two different versions of the bill. After hammering out a compromise in a conference committee, the Senate gave final approval to HB2053 by a 39-0 vote and the House approved the measure 73-22. The bill now goes to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s desk. He will have to sign or veto the legislation within one month of the last day of the session or it will become law without his signature.
The Virginia legislature overwhelmingly approved a similar bill during the last legislative session, but the governor rejected the bill, sending it back with a recommendation that it not go into effect unless reenacted by the 2017 Session of the General Assembly. In other words, the bill would have had to go through the legislative process all over again this year before taking effect. The House rejected the amendment by a 34-66 vote. McAuliffe then vetoed the bill.
According to Michigan Capitol Confidential, by removing a third party payer from the equation, medical retainer agreements help both physicians and patients minimize costs. Jack Spencer writes:
“Under medical retainer agreements, patients make monthly payments to a physician who in return agrees to provide a menu of routine services at no extra charge. Because no insurance company stands between patient and doctor, the hassles and expense of bureaucratic red tape are eliminated, which have resulted in dramatic cost reductions. Routine primary care services (and the bureaucracy required to reimburse them) are estimated to consume 40 cents out of every dollar spent on insurance policies, so lower premiums for a given amount of coverage are another potential benefit.”
This represents the kind of cost control Obamacare promised, but failed to deliver.
Under Obamacare, regulations define such programs as a primary care service and not a health insurance plan, and current IRS policy treats these monthly fee arrangements just like another health plan.
A FIRST STEP
At this point, it remains unclear whether Congress will actually send President-elect Trump a bill to repeal Obamacare. If so, will it be a complete or just a partial repeal? Regardless, state actions can help completely bring down the Affordable Care Act.
Oftentimes, supporters of Obamacare criticize opponents for not having any alternative. Direct primary care offers one.
These direct patient/doctor agreements allow a system uncontrolled by government regulations to develop. It makes doctors responsive to patients, not insurance company bureaucrats or government rule-makers. Allowing patients to contract directly with doctors via medical retainer agreements opens the market. Under such agreements, market forces will set price for services based on both demand instead of relying on central planners with a political agenda. The end-result will be better care delivered at a lower cost.
By incentivizing creative healthcare solutions, the market will naturally provide better options, such as the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, This facility operates completely outside of the insurance system, providing a low-cost alternative for many surgical procedures.
A more open healthcare marketplace within a state will help spur de facto nullification the federal program by providing an affordable alternative. As patients flock to these arrangements and others spurred by ingenuity and market forces, the old system will begin to crumble.
Passage of HB2053 would represent a first step toward healthcare freedom in Virginia, and would create a stepping stone to further action to nullify the onerous Affordable Care act. Once in place, Virginians can take further steps to fully extricate themselves from Obamacare for good.
For more information on a plan to nullify the PPACA, click HERE.
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