What you need to know about the Patient Freedom Act of 2017
Last week, several senators introduced a proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare. The Patient Freedom Act of 2017 (PFA) attempts to bridge ACA replacement and repeal by highlighting principles of deregulation and transfer of responsibility to individual states.
The PFA was introduced by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).
The PFA joins earlier proposals from Ryan et al1 as alternatives to the ACA in addressing the pledges of the new administration and GOP lawmakers. The PFA features several components of earlier efforts from 2016, including pieces of the Healthcare Accessibility, Empowerment, and Liberty Act previously introduced into Congress and from previous Patient Freedom Acts versions introduced by Cassidy in advance of the Supreme Court’s decision on King v. Burwell in June 2016.
(Note: King v. Burwell was a legal victory for the Obama Administration, as affirmed in an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, that tax credits in the ACA’s Section 36B were available to individuals who purchased health insurance on an exchange created by the federal government.)
Not a total repeal
This legislation represents a selective replacement of the ACA, as compared to a total repeal.
According to Sens. Cassidy and Collins, the PFA offers states the power to “increase access to health insurance and improve patient choice, while preserving important consumer protections” originating with the ACA.
Hailed as a commonsense approach by some in the GOP, the PFA may not be conservative enough for others.2 States would be given three options under the PFA for replacing the individual mandate. These include:
• Keeping the ACA
• Rejecting any federal reform
• Utilizing a new approach based on Roth Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).