“This bill is not about the merits of graduate medical education or teaching health centers,” Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) said on the House floor Tuesday, when members began to consider the bill he sponsored. “Everyone agrees that there is a strong need for more primary-care physicians in our healthcare system, but picking and choosing one program over another to receive automatic funding is irresponsible,” he added. “Making these programs mandatory spending is unfair to all of the other healthcare programs that have to compete every year to continue to receive funds,” he said, adding that another section of the Affordable Care Act allows hospitals to receive funds for training in family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics and physician assistantships—all of which are authorized and subject to appropriations, whereas the section of the law for teaching health centers provides automatic funds.
Separately Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee—of which Guthrie is a member—held a hearing to examine the merits of the Health Care Choice Act, a bill Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced in January that would allow Americans to purchase insurance across state lines. In his opening remarks, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the full committee, said states have imposed more than 2,100 benefit mandates on health coverage, which lead to significant premium increases.
“States are realizing the benefit mandates are a problem that have to be dealt with,” Upton said. “Fifteen states are now considering legislation to allow individuals to purchase coverage across state lines,” he added. “Two states with very different political backgrounds, Georgia and Maine, have already recently enacted laws to promote interstate purchase.”
Steve Larsen, deputy administrator and director at CMS’ Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, said in his testimony that the Affordable Care Act allows healthcare to be sold across state lines when both states agree and consumer protections are maintained.