AT RISK: Bill to Let Patients Use HSAs for DPC

Earlier this week we heard the good news that H.R. 365 was finally going to be considered by the House Committee on Ways and Means, bringing the use of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) for Direct Patient Care (DPC) one step closer to reality.

Then we learned “a few small changes” had been made to the bill. Unfortunately the “few small changes” have greatly damaged the legislation.

You can read a copy of the latest bill here: https://goo.gl/B6imgQ.

Under the new language, DPC practices would have to comply with several federal requirements in order to become HSA-eligible. One provision limits the care provided under the agreement to specific CPT codes.  Another would prohibit DPC arrangements priced over a certain threshold from being HSA-eligible. Others further limit how the pricing can be structured and what care can and cannot be included. Specialists would be blocked from offering innovative HSA-eligible monthly membership payment arrangements.

To us, these changes are unacceptable and might be worse than no bill at all. If the bill passes in this form it would put practices that don’t comply with the federal rules at a competitive disadvantage to practices that align their model to satisfy DC instead of their patients.

One more problem:  these changes were tucked in at the last second barely a day ahead of Wednesday’s mark up session of the Bill in House Ways and Means.  That’s right, the new bill is headed to be pushed through committee with little chance for public input.

Today, AAPS sent a letter to every Ways and Means Committee member, and the committee staff, expressing our concerns about this bill and a few other bills the committee will consider on Wednesday, July 11.  Overall, we like a number of the bills under review, because they do expand HSA flexibility. But there are several key problems that tilt the playing field to the advantage of corporate medicine. Read more in our letter here: https://goo.gl/XYutr5.

What can you do?  Please send the committee a message ASAP before Wednesday at 2pm Eastern.  Here are the steps:

1) Copy the following text:

Dear Chairman Brady, Ranking Member Neal, and Members of the House Committee on Ways and Means,

Tomorrow you will be considering replacement language to H.R. 365, the Primary Care Enhancement Act. The addition of improper requirements means the new bill will not accomplish the goal of allowing patients to use their Health Savings Accounts to see the Direct Patient Care physicians of their choice.  I encourage the committee to consider adopting H.R. 365 as written, while rejecting the recent changes. In addition I encourage you to please consider AAPS recommendations about this bill and others you are considering today. The AAPS letter to the committee is available at https://goo.gl/XYutr5.

2) Visit https://waysandmeans.house.gov/contact/ and paste the comment in to the appropriate field and modify as desired.

2a) You can also fax your comment to the committee: (202) 225-2610

3) If your representative is on the Ways and Means Committee, email the note to the Health Legislative Assistant for your Member of Congress. A list of committee members and their health staff contact information, sorted by state, is available here: https://goo.gl/8iqw3u.

Thank you for speaking out!

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One Easy Hack @RealDonaldTrump Can Use to Ignite a Consumer-Directed Revolution in American Medicine

Options are about to multiply for 12-million Americans trapped in ObamaCare plans, the 12% uninsured, and others ACA victims, with coming new proposals from the Trump administration.  After signing “Right to Try” into law Wednesday, President Trump hinted that these changes are mere weeks away.

Once the new policies are in place, new lower cost and flexible insurance alternatives will be unleashed, freeing Americans from disruptive (in a bad way) ObamaCare rules that drive up costs and decrease patients’ and workers’ choices.

Here are the two expected policies plus one hack that will floor the accelerator on their impact:

First, the Department of Labor is set to expand the availability of Association Health Plans. These will give Americans with common connections the ability to join together in plans they control.  Less regulation is not the only advantage of AHPs, although savings will be significant: an estimated $9,700 a year less compared to the individual market by 2022, reports Avalere.  Escaping state-based mandates is another advantage; these plans can be sold across state lines. In addition, association plans will allow employees to more readily keep their plan if their work situation changes.

The second anticipated policy, this one from the Department of Health and Human Security, will increase access to short term health insurance plans that are almost completely free of failed ACA requirements. Under President Obama, these plans were limited to 90 days of coverage, but Secretary Azar is expected to extend the limit to 364 days.  Coverage in such a plan would costs on average $342 a month, vs. $619 per month for an exchange plan, reports Michael Cannon of CATO. Mr. Cannon also suggests the administration should allow short term plans to offer guaranteed renewability or even sell the guarantees separately (he estimates the average cost at $86/month).  Renewability options would not only help consumers retain these plans long term, but would also inhibit expensive enrollees from being pushed back into the ACA exchanges.

Both of these proposals are going to help Americans; however the Trump administration could turbo-charge these good ideas with one simple hack. One sleek additional change to federal policy would lower costs even further, while increasing patients’ access to high quality care.

What else should the Trump administration do immediately? It’s simple: let patients use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) for Direct Primary Care (DPC).

Most people already know about HSAs but, perhaps aren’t yet familiar with DPC, a direct arrangement between doctors and patients, that cuts the red tape out of health care, kicks the bureaucrats out of the exam room, and is set to sweep across the U.S.   Dr. Marilyn Singleton explains DPC like this: “The Direct Primary Care (DPC) model is burgeoning as patients yearn for quality time with their doctor at an affordable price. Here, all primary care services and access to basic commonly used drugs at wholesale prices are included in a fixed transparent price,” often around $50 to 75 per month.

The bottom line is DPC saves money for patients and downstream payers (like Medicare), increases quality of care, and it relieves physicians of counterproductive red-tape hassles that are driving them out of practice. DPC is a win-win-win.

You’d think everyone would agree that encouraging the use of DPC is a no-brainer. Shockingly, the Internal Revenue Service is blocking the use of this innovation for the 30 million Americans with HSAs. Thanks to a letter issued by Obama’s IRS commissioner, John Koskinen (yes the same one who stonewalled efforts by Congress to investigate IRS retaliation against conservatives) patients are prohibited from contributing to their HSA if they are in a DPC practice. To add insult to injury, HSA funds cannot be used for DPC.

As the public becomes aware of this flawed IRS decree —deserving of a blue ribbon in the Health Policy Hall of Shame—momentum grows for change. Just last month, Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson wrote Treasury asking for a reversal.  In addition 1,125 patients and doctors have asked Congress to pass the Primary Care Enhancement Act (HR 365/S 1358) and force the IRS to change its misguided interpretation of law.

Disrupting (in a good way) Koskinen’s obstruction of patient freedom must be a priority for the Trump Administration as it moves forward with other reforms to remedy past policy disasters.  Allowing patients to use HSAs for DPC will turbo-charge the ability of patients with short term and Association-based plans to make their health care dollar go even further and get the best care from the physicians of their choice.

Need one last reason, President Trump? DPC will boost your plans to lower prescription drug costs.  A 72-year old female patient with multiple chronic conditions purchases all nine of her medications through a Direct Primary Care office in Allentown, Pennsylvania for $14.63 per month. Through Medicare “coverage” her cost would be $294.25 per month.

There is simply no legitimate reason for blocking patients with HSAs from DPC physicians … unless you are a middleman profiting off the status quo.

The Definitive Interview with Dr. Ben Carson – We Can Afford Good Health Care

Originally broadcast on January 13, 2016: Dr. Craig M Wax Interviews Ben Carson, MD on Your Health Matters, Rowan Radio, WGLS-FM.

 

United Healthcare’s Bank Enables Even More Data Mining About You

Guest Post From Barbara Duck, Proprietor of The Medical Quack Blog

How many people know that United-owned Optum has a bank?  They don’t offer any retail services outside of an Health Savings Account to the public but many companies offer this for people who have a high deductible health insurance policy.  You can read through Yelp and make your own opinions if you want to dive in a bit more.  The bank is located in Salt Lake City and most of what one would do with this “custodial” bank would be onlineimage of course.  There are other Health Savings Accounts around of course to choose from.  Well here we have MasterCard who we should all know by now are just marketing and mining your data to who ever seems to have the money to buy anymore.  Here’s a company names Argus, who buys credit card information and then continues on to “score” you.  We’re not talking credit scores here, but anything they can think of where they can take data, score you with some query some Rogue software engineer came up with to make money. Continue reading

HDP/HSA policies cancelled: Yet another #ACA #EpicFail

My personal family business HDP w HSA policy was canceled as a direct result of PPACA/Obamacare. It was replaced with a plan that was double the cost. So, if we do the math, $800 plus $800 equals $1600, that’s a 100% increase. Others have had similar experience. Our states Blue Cross affiliate used to sell over 140 different plans, but now due to the unaffordable careless act, now only sells a dozen or so. Perhaps, we can also discuss the fact that we tax payers, through this government fascist program, pay over $1 million per policy. #ACA #EpicFail