For Immediate Release
Budget Deal Kills Program to Improve Health Care Choices and Competition
WASHINGTON - Statement of U.S. PIRG Health Care Advocate Larry McNeely on the decision to eliminate Free Choice Vouchers in the FY2011 budget deal.
“The budget deal to keep the government open ends an innovative health care program, known as Free Choice Vouchers, that uses consumer choice to increase competition and drive down costs. Consumers and taxpayers will be worse off for this ill-advised move.
“Beginning in 2014, this program would have allowed workers meeting certain requirements who cannot afford the coverage provided by their employer to take whatever funds their employer might have contributed to their insurance and use them to help purchase a plan in the new health insurance exchanges.
“First proposed by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and ultimately included in the Affordable Care Act, these vouchers would have provided new options to consumers grappling with skyrocketing costs, increased competition in insurance markets, and, if successful, could have been expanded by Congress into a broader free choice program that would have helped lift the burden of health costs that have been crushing businesses, consumers, and the nation’s fiscal health.
“Previously, the Administration and Congressional leaders of both parties have acknowledged the importance of tackling growth in health care costs. Unfortunately, the decision to kill the free choice program will make it harder, not easier, to meet the challenge of rising health costs.”
U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, we take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights,where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.