Both doctors and patients detest the broken insurance system that increases costs and decreases access to healthcare.
Some caregivers have grown so frustrated by insurance red tape that they’ve stopped taking health insurance altogether in favor of direct primary care.
Developed as an alternative to expensive health insurance, direct primary care is a new model for healthcare, in which providers charge patients a monthly or annual fee to cover most primary care services, such as clinical and laboratory services, consultative services, care coordination, and comprehensive care management.
“Direct practices offer home visits, answer calls 24-7, and personally manage patient’s hospital care,” explains Dr. Thomas W. LaGrelius, president and chairman of The American College of Private Physicians. “These physicians work directly for and are paid directly by their patients, which forces doctors to provide the best service. In other words, it returns to what most doctors used to do before the health insurance industry took over and changed the rules.”
Now, the powerful insurance industry is lobbying Congress to once again change the rules, this time, to punish patients and doctors that escape the grasp of expensive health insurance.
HR 3708 Increases Costs, Undermines Patient Choice
Authored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, HR 3708 would bar some doctors from providing direct primary care, block prescribed treatments from qualifying for medical reimbursements, and impose new restrictions on how patients use their health savings accounts.
“HR 3708 would reverse the progress DPC providers are achieving outside the country’s insurance-based health care system,” says Dr. Chad Savage, a policy fellow at the Docs 4 Patient Care Foundation and the founder of a Michigan-based DPC practice. “This bill would limit physicians’ ability to innovate, restrict services, and trigger bureaucratic nightmares.”
Patient advocates warn that the legislation will increase costs and reduce patient control over their medical care.
“HR 3708 makes health care more expensive for millions of patients,” says Terry Wilcox, executive director at Patients Rising Now, a national non-profit organization fighting for patient access to affordable health care. “This bill is a direct attack on patients trying to escape the expensive and broken health insurance system.”
New Restrictions on HSA Dollars
DPC Action, a non-profit organization that supports independent Direct Primary Care practices, says that the bill imposes unprecedented restrictions on patient control over their health savings accounts. In addition to limiting the types of specialties allowed to enter into HSA-eligible primary care agreement, the bill caps direct primary care fees.
“This provision creates the first federally legislated limitation on a patient’s use of HSA dollars for medical care in U.S. history,” DPC Action writes on its website. “This is harmful to patient choice and an affront to the transparency that Congress seeks.”
HR 3708 is facing strong opposition from medical professionals, including the Florida Medical Association. More than 1,700 physicians have signed a petition urging the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) to oppose the bill, which they call “disastrous” and “harmful to both family physicians and patients.”
“HSA dollars should be allowed to be used for a direct pay Gynecologist, Cardiologist, Psychiatrist, etc.,” writes Dr. Kim Corba, a board-certified family physician and the owner of Green Hills Direct Family Care. “Wouldn’t you like to have the choice to use your HSA dollars without restrictions to obtain a medical service that will ensure you or your loved one has access and attention for a concerning illness?”
Take Action: Tell Your Member of Congress to Oppose HR 3708
Patients Rising NOW is urging patients to contact their Members of Congress to oppose HR 3708.
Here are two ways to take action:
- Get Involved – Become an Advocate: Join Patients Rising NOW and help other patients get access to care.
- Share Your Voice: Send your representatives a message by visiting Patients Rising NOW’s Get Involved page.