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DISCUSSION – Panelists, from left, Jason Edson of Americans for Prosperity, Dr. Integrated Source One Direct Health Care’s Bernard Bubanic and U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, listen to a question from a viewer Tuesday. – Nancy Johnson

MARIETTA — Marietta on Tuesday received a grassroots proposal to improve America’s health care system, coordinated by the Ohio chapter of Americans for Prosperity and supported by U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta.

About a dozen people involved in Marietta’s community and business affairs attended a panel presentation and question-and-answer session on the topic, billed as the Policy Roundtable on Health Care with Congressman Bill Johnson.

The Galley session was not aimed at finding out what ailments and difficulties people have when dealing with the many facets of the US healthcare system. Instead, the nonprofit group has pushed back the issues with certain proposals included in its personal options legislative agenda. The goal of the Personal Option, they say, is to free patients from the confusing, restrictive hodgepodge of federal and state regulations that have been placed on the books “Help” the healthcare system.

“We need to remove barriers, give patients more opportunities to expand their choices, reduce costs, and put Americans in control of their care.” said Ezra Escudero, AFP Ohio coalition director.

“This is the beginning,” Escudero said of the small group in front of him on Tuesday. “We want you to want to know more, share more, talk to friends and neighbors. This is how grassroots movement begins.”

There have been similar AFP sessions in other parts of Ohio, and the Marietta meeting is the second AFP session with Johnson as a panelist, he said.

“A later plan is to include elected officials, business and community leaders, and members of the health care community.” said Escudero. “And we hope to organize a summit of nurses and doctors this fall.”

Johnson emphasized his support for the personal option proposals.

“In American healthcare right now, people are paying for things they don’t use or need. There must be options. When you get options, you get competitiveness, not a captive audience. And competitiveness and a free market have made us the greatest country in the world.” said Johnson.

Panel members included Dr. Bernard Bubanic, a North Canton-area doctor who runs a direct-care health practice, Integrated Source One, and Jason Edson, AFP’s associate director of problem education and a former paramedic.

The four main points of the Personal Option focus on quality and affordable insurance; better access to trusted doctors; price transparency; and prescription drugs at lower prices. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, Escudero said of the plan his group has created. Some of the points of the proposal:

— Expand availability of short-term, renewable health insurance plans offered for 30, 60, or 90 days, or up to six months.

— Legalize health plans by associations, where, for example, 10 small companies with a smaller number of employees can combine and have some leverage in purchasing company-provided health insurance.

— Grow health savings accounts that accept pre-tax dollars. There are some companies that can match these employee contributions.

— Promotion of telemedicine and telemed, which have been widely adopted and accepted during the COVID outbreak and proved useful.

— Repeal requirement certification laws and allow hospitals and medical facilities to offer more services.

— Let nurses provide care for which they are trained.

— Allow doctors and nurses to practice across state lines.

— Reforming the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process to bring new drugs and treatments to market faster.

— Strengthening direct basic services.

When asked how local residents could help turn grassroots efforts into a strong presence to bring about change, Escudero reiterated his earlier advice: “Learn more. Share the knowledge. Discuss things with friends and neighbors. Get involved.”

Among the available sources of information, residents can search, the group’s national website, for information and action items. There is a feature on the national website to allow access to government websites. There are chapters of Americans for Prosperity throughout the tri-state area. For more detailed information on the legislative agenda, visit Escudero can be contacted by email at [email protected]

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