Conservatives Introduce Anti-Health Reform Bills in the States

Under the guise of "choice" in health care, conservatives are launching a state-based campaign to derail health reform.  With support from the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), conservative legislators in at least 24 states are introducing a bill that says no one shall be required to purchase health care from the government or a government-defined health plan or be prevented from buying private insurance, and that residents shall have the right to pay for health care directly out of pocket.  The bill is modeled after ALEC’s “Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act.”  Progressives are pushing back by underscoring the need for health reform and identifying this bill as a poorly veiled messaging tool to derail health reform and strengthen the power of health insurance companies.

After the bill was introduced in her state of Georgia, Rep. Alisha Morgan, told The Marietta Daily Journal that,

the measure, “distracts from a real problem at hand, which is that Georgia has close to 1.7 million people who are uninsured.  Instead of going after the consumer and small business-friends bill being debated in the Senate, we should go after the insurance companies, which repeatedly deny health care to Georgian families and hold payments from our family physicians.” 

"If we are to truly create consumer choice in health care, we need to support the federal reform bill that is now before the U.S. Senate," she said.

The U.S. Senate bill would end the practice of insurance companies denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, allow Georgians to seek care from the doctor of their choice or require Americans to purchase a government-run health plan, she said.

According to a press release from the sponsor of the Georgia bill, the anti-reform legislation has been filed, or pre-filed, in: AL, AZ, FL, GA, IN, MI, MN, ND, NM, OH, PA, SC, WV, and WY.  Legislators in the following states have said they will introduce the bill: AK, KS, LA, MO, MS, NH, OK, MT, TN, and UT.  For the text of the bill, see Pennsylvania House Bill 2053.

To push back on this conservative effort to derail reform and to prepare as anti-reformers shift their focus to state houses across the country, progressives can use the following talking points:

  • More and more families are losing their medical insurance because it’s too costly for them and their employers, and those families with insurance are paying more and getting less every day.  We need health reform, and we need it today.
  • Congress is working on health reform that seeks to ensure all Americans have access to affordable care while protecting Americans' choice about the health plan they choose.  Right now, small businesses and families are struggling to pay increased costs for coverage, at the same time that insurance companies are denying them coverage for pre-existing conditions and dumping them from coverage the minute they get sick.  This bill will make these problems worse by giving more power to the very companies who are taking advantage of Americans today.  The real solution to the problems that Americans experience today exists in federal health reform.
  • This bill is nothing more than a poorly veiled attempt to derail health reform.  It distracts from the very real problem at hand and does nothing to help families and small businesses access quality and affordable health care.  In fact, it would strengthen the power of insurance companies, which repeatedly deny health care to families and hold payments from our family physicians.
  • The health reform bills provide security and stability to those who have insurance, offer affordable options for those that don’t, strengthen the financial health of Medicare, and lower costs for families and businesses. 
  • The health reform bills create more choices by helping tens of millions of uninsured and under-insured American families afford quality coverage.  If a worker doesn't have insurance coverage through their job, or that coverage is not affordable, they will have new choices of coverage.