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Bicameral Common Sense on Health Care

In an attempt to expand the use of health savings accounts (HSAs), Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) have introduced the Health Savings Account Expansion Act of 2016 (H.R. 5324 in the House and S. 2980 in the Senate). This legislation will expand and simplify the popular HSAs that put Americans in charge of their healthcare.

Embodying free market principles to give Americans more control over their health care than currently allowed by the federal government, Rep. Brat and Sen. Flake’s bill aims to implement four key reforms providing an increase in options. First, raising contribution limits for single/joint filers to $9,000/$18,000 per year will allow prudent individuals with the discipline to save the ability to prepare for their future as they see fit.

Second, lifting the burden of Affordable Care Act restrictions on over-the-counter purchases as well as additional penalties on certain withdrawals will allow for more personalized medical decisions with less interference from government interference.

Third, enabling Health Savings Account funds to pay premiums and direct primary care expenses will give individuals back their right to determine where and when they will spend their savings.

Fourth and finally, the bill streamlines unneeded regulatory requirements including eliminating the high deductible health plan mandate, which not only protects Americans against the hidden cost of bureaucracy, but also the egregious act of forcing Americans to purchase goods or services without their consent and punishing them for refusing to comply.

The HSA Expansion Act advances personalized medicine in the marketplace through several key advances. By expanding choices for personalized medicine including direct primary care and creating parity in health care financing, health care will, in turn, become more market friendly and thus facilitate the bidding down prices as proper market signals are sent and received from patient to provider.

Additionally, the bill empowers workers to control compensation, which can reduce administrative burdens on employers and thus reduce the overall cost of healthcare. In addition, by preserving existing tax provisions, individuals are empowered and can pay for and access health care at their discretion, whether or not through an employer.

Lastly, not only does it aim to streamline HSAs to make them easier for individuals to use, the bill keeps Health and Human Services, the federal health care bureaucracy, from eliminating HSA-eligible plans from exchanges in 2017.

Rep. Brat and Sen. Flake’s Health Savings Account Expansion Act of 2016 will not only empower individual Americans to take more control over their health care but also push the pendulum of federalism back to the founders intended vision. It is deserving of committee hearings and floor action in both chambers.