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GOP Proposal for Health Care Reform: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

For Immediate Release: May 20, 2009

Contact: Adrienne Ammerman or Mary Robbins, 202-588-5180


GOP Proposal for Health Care Reform:

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back


(Washington, DC)  Republican law makers released today their health care reform proposal, called the Patients' Choice Act of 2009. The statement of Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President of the National WomenÂ’s Law Center (NWLC), follows:


“While I commend Senators Coburn and Burr and Representatives Ryan and Nunes for recognizing that our current health care system is ‘broken’ and in major need for reform, unfortunately, for every step forward in this plan, it takes two steps back.


“A prime example of this is its claim to provide a consistent and fair market so that everyone can afford coverage, while omitting any protection against insurance premiums rating based on age, gender, health status, or any other factor. For the thousands of women left on their own to buy insurance directly from health insurers – who are often charged more than men for the exact same coverage – this proposed plan will not create a market that is fair, equitable, or affordable. Instead of ending these discriminatory practices to level the playing field and make health care affordable for all Americans, this proposal allows unfair insurance industry practices to continue in perpetuity.


“This plan relies on tax credits – $5,700 for families and $2,300 for individuals – to help cover health insurance premiums, but these capped tax credits do not account for differences in premiums that unfairly penalize women and older people, and do not help with out-of-pocket costs – which are often substantial in the individual market.


 Ã‚“The plan also promotes the use of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) with health savings accounts (HSAs). HDHPs may have lower premiums, but they come with higher out-of-pocket costs. Women have, on average, less disposable income and greater health care needs than men, and are therefore generally less able to afford high out-of-pocket costs.  High cost-sharing has also been shown to —as lead to the under-use of needed services, particularly for those with low incomes and chronic illnesses. In addition, people with less income to contribute to an HSA may lack sufficient funds in their accounts to cover their health care needs. This short-sighted remedy fails to address the real affordability challenges faced by Americans, and especially lower-income women.


 Ã‚“As health care costs climb through the roof, growing numbers of people simply canÂ’t afford coverage. Women, in particular, are at great financial risk, since one in four women says that she is unable to pay her medical bills. The high cost of care means women are more likely than men to delay or go without needed health care.


“Unless tax incentives are structured in ways that would allow low-income women and their families to purchase health coverage, and unless they are combined with comprehensive reforms to the insurance market, they are unlikely to solve America’s health care crisis.


“Health care reform should not leave women in the lurch when it comes to getting access to quality, affordable, comprehensive health care. We can’t afford to wait any longer for meaningful reform that will bring a guarantee of quality, affordable comprehensive health care for us all.”




To learn more about NWLCÂ’s work around women and health care reform, visit www.nwlc.org/reformmatters. To schedule an interview with Marcia Greenberger, contact Adrienne Ammerman at 202-588-5180 or aammerman@nwlc.org.




The National Women's Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women's legal rights. The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women. For more information on the Center, visit:  www.nwlc.org.

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