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Press Release

Letting Consumers Shop Across State Lines for Health Care Will Ease System's Woes, Taxpayer Group Says

For Immediate Release July 25, 2005

(Washington, DC) -- To expand health care choices and control costs, consumers must be allowed to purchase health insurance from out-of-state providers: that's the message an official with the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) stressed today at a Capitol Hill briefing session for lawmakers and their staff on reform legislation in the 109th Congress. The Council for Affordable Health Insurance sponsored the event.

"By imposing more than 1,500 burdensome benefit-mandates on health insurance companies for services such as hair prostheses and infertility treatments, many states have made insurance coverage for their residents unaffordable," said NTU Director of Government Affairs Paul Gessing. "Allowing consumers to shop for health care insurance across state lines will help the 40 million-plus Americans now lacking health coverage find an option they can afford."

In May, the National Taxpayers Union re-affirmed its longstanding support for the Health Care Choice Act (H.R. 2355) in a letter to the legislation's sponsor, Representative John Shadegg (R-AZ). According to Gessing, the legislation "would harness the power of the marketplace" by giving consumers access to a broader range of health plans, spurring competition among state policymakers, and by creating a robust nationwide health insurance market.

"Individual preference is essential to determining health care insurance plans, and the law should respect rather than reject that principle," Gessing said. "Consumers -- even those requiring only 'bare bones' plans -- are forced to pay for benefits they don't need and risk being uninsured because they cannot look outside their own state for health insurance. It is ridiculous that in our increasingly global economy, where Americans can shop for goods and services five thousand miles from our shores, they cannot purchase health insurance plans offered outside their home state's borders."

Gessing concluded by noting that the Health Care Choice Act, which polls indicate over 70 percent of Americans support, would open up restricted state markets, lower health care costs, and give consumers additional choices without harming the taxpayer. "Why force taxpayers and private entities to shoulder the $125 billion cost of providing health care coverage for the uninsured when this legislation could help accomplish that goal in a way that is friendly to every American's pocketbook?" he asked. "The Health Care Choice Act is a key part of the long-term therapy our system needs to thrive."

NTU is a non-profit, non-partisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, less wasteful spending, and more accountable government at all levels. Note: More information on NTU's health care policy work and a copy of Gessing's May 12 letter are available at