Issa Introduces Equal Healthcare Access Act

Published: Oct 24, 2013

WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., today announced legislation, H.R. 3319, the Equal Healthcare Access Act, that would allow all Americans to enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP). Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-SC, and Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay, D-Mo., are original cosponsors.

“The Equal Healthcare Access Act offers Americans access to the same health insurance plans long enjoyed by Members of Congress and their families,” said Chairman Issa. “This is a free market approach to healthcare with government playing the very limited role of helping small businesses and individuals come together to get a better price for healthcare – much like larger businesses can already negotiate on their own.”

Information about what plans are available under FEHBP can be found at the Office of Personnel Management’s website:

“The American people should have as easy a consumer experience as federal employees do,” Issa continued. “People can visit the OPM’s website to see how easy it would be for Americans to compare health insurance prices under this system.”

This practical plan addresses key healthcare challenges by:

  • Nationwide Coverage.  Americans would have the ability to purchase coverage as a member of this group plan.  Individuals could choose from among the more than 230 plan choices participating in the FEHBP.
  • Improving Access & Choice. Nearly 99 percent of physicians already accept FEHBP plans, allowing all Americans to find a doctor that is convenient for them and almost all Americans to keep seeing the doctors they see now.
  • Providing Affordable Options. The FEHBP uses market competition and consumer choice to provide $45 billion annually in health care benefits at an affordable cost. Individuals pay the same rate, regardless of pre-existing conditions, age or health status. Expanding access to the benefit will foster greater competition among insurance providers for price and quality.
  • Expanding Consumer Choice. In 2014, federal workers will have access to 256 plans through FEHBP nationwide, up 10 percent in 2013. The plans include HMOs, PPOs, consumer driven healthcare plans and more. They range in cost and coverage, allowing consumers to select a plan which is right for them. Most major insurance providers currently participate in FEHBP.
  • Enhancing Quality-of-Care.  The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) would continue to ensure the solvency of the plans, enforce reasonable standards for care, and protect enrollees.
  • Making Prices Easier to Compare. Participants will have a clear picture of their out of pocket costs, and their exposure will be capped at reasonable rates.
  • Helping Job Creators. Private sector employers could subsidize premium costs for their employees allowing them to buy plans, unlike the state-based exchanges established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
  • Keeping Administrative Costs Low. To fund the administration of FEHBP, OPM adds a charge to each premium not to exceed 1 percent to cover administrative costs. The system currently uses 200 employees to facilitate a private market that today serves 8 million civil servants, retired employees and family members.

You can view a copy of the H.R. 3319 here. Chairman Issa has also posted an editable version of the legislation here to solicit public input.