Insurance for millions, in a five-page bill

By BenefitsPro

By Dan Cook

Where was Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was being written in such excruciating detail?

Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has just offered legislation that he says would solve the problem of health insurance coverage for millions of Americans.

Issa’s solution is dubbed the Equal Healthcare Access Act. The five-page bill would allow all non-federal employees who do not have access to affordable coverage elsewhere to seek insurance through the exchanges that cover federal employees.

“The Equal Healthcare Access Act offers Americans access to the same health insurance plans long enjoyed by members of Congress and their families,” Issa said. “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.

“The American people should have as easy a consumer experience as federal employees do,” he said.

Issa doesn’t try to derail or destroy the PPACA with his proposal. Rather, his legislation simply rethinks the design of the federal employee exchange marketplace, now populated by 230 plans. These are the plans that members of House and Senate can use to sign up for their health coverage.

His basic contention, like that of other members of the GOP, is that members of Congress and other government officials shouldn’t be granted better health coverage than other U.S. citizens. By opening this program up to non-government workers, Issa would achieve that aim without disturbing the basic elements of the PPACA.

The bill’s got bipartisan support, co-sponsored by Mick Mulvaney, a South Carolina Republican, and William Lacy Clay, a Democrat from Missouri.

Originally published on