As Republicans ponder the best way to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s federal health care law, a conservative Florida Republican in Congress is looking to ensure the private sector will play a larger role.
On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., brought out the “Holding Health Insurers Harmless Act” which he says will reform Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) and help the private sector cover more health care plans. Yoho’s proposal would return “federal requirements on health insurance plans back to the legal regime before the ACA’s mandates and penalties came into force, so we have time to work on replacing the ACA with effective reform" and let insurers provide plans outside the Obamacare mandates without being penalized by the federal government.
The North Florida Republican made his case for his legislation on Thursday.
“As we hammer out a replacement to the Affordable Care Act, it is important that all Americans have access to quality health insurance,” Yoho said. “Since ACA was signed into law, many insurers have either refused to participate in the exchanges established by the ACA, or have stopped participating in them altogether. In some states there is only one health insurance provider and option. This is unacceptable and not what was promised.
“This is a major problem, especially considering the fact that health insurers are devising the plans they will offer for the next business year and beyond,” Yoho added. “The private sector will factor in what we accomplish over the next few weeks in their decisions on whether to provide certain plans. So, we need to let those insurers know that help is on the way.
“The bill I introduced today assures insurance companies that they will not be penalized by any federal agency if they offer insurance plans like they were able to before the ACA was signed into law,” Yoho continued. “This bill keeps protections for people with pre-existing conditions and allows individuals to stay on their parent’s plans till age twenty-six while these companies plan for the future. Allowing them to do this, without penalty, will benefit the American people and help in our transition to a better, patient-centered, health care system.”
The bill was sent to House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday. So far, there are no co-sponsors.
Yoho, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, said earlier this week that he opposed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s, R-Wisc., effort to repeal and replace Obama’s law. The Trump administration has backed the AHCA with the president praising it as “wonderful” and Vice President Mike Pence and HHS Sec. Tom Price urging congressional Republicans to pass it.
Appearing on the PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff on Tuesday night, Yoho, the vice-chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he could not support the AHCA as it currently is.
“My reservations are many,” Yoho told Woodruff. “I like the direction we’re moving in, but I could not support the bill as it is right now.”