by Naomi Lopez Bauman

Last week, the nation saw a rare bright spot  in Washington, as the U.S. House followed the lead of 38 states and passed Right to Try legislation. It is in the states where Americans are seeing the brightest spots in healthcare reform, as opposed to the constant gridlock and paralysis in our nation’s capitol.

The latest example is in Florida, where just last week state lawmakers took a giant step toward protecting and promoting accessible and affordable healthcare for its residents. Florida passed legislation protecting Direct Primary Care (DPC) arrangements, and it was signed by Governor Rick Scott on Friday.

DPC allows patients or their employers to directly contract with a provider for primary care medical services. This allows patients to directly and more immediately access non-emergency care and, under many arrangements, allows them to do so as many times as needed at no additional cost.

Unlike a typical health-care arrangement, DPC operates independently of traditional health insurance. But in some states, decades-old regulations originally designed to govern the health-insurance market are being imposed on these arrangements, stifling the potential growth of this new health-care option.

By contracting directly with primary care providers, patients and providers can avoid many of the administrative costs that come with traditional health-insurance arrangements. This can also allow for more a more direct relationship between the patient and provider – eliminating the middleman. Most DPC providers are available via email, phone and text 24/7. Some will even make house calls.

Bills defining and protecting this healthcare model, similar to Florida’s, have passed in more than a dozen states and other states are poised to follow suit. By passing laws that define DPC as a medical service rather than insurance, state lawmakers can ensure that this arrangement will not be squelched by state insurance regulators.

According to a statement from the James Madison Institute, a free-market think tank focusing on Florida issues:

“This policy is a win for all. Patients will benefit from the expansion of provider networks using DPC, doctors seeking to increase their ability to concentrate on patient care as opposed to overwhelming insurance paperwork will benefit, and lawmakers seeking to advance other elements of free-market health care policy reforms will benefit.”

Naomi Lopez Bauman is the director of healthcare policy at the Goldwater Institute. She and her family recently joined a DPC arrangement (in addition to their employer-sponsored plan) and are ecstatic with the experience.