American families would receive $5,000 and individuals $2,000 to buy health insurance if their employers didn’t offer it, according to new health reform legislation introduced yesterday by U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). In addition to providing families and consumers with vouchers, the Health Care Freedom Plan also:

• Expands Americans’ use of health savings accounts (HSAs) to pay for insurance premiums
• Creates a nationwide market for health insurance by allowing consumers to buy health insurance in any state
• Provides block grants to states to develop innovative models for ensuring that  people with pre-existing health conditions can get affordable access to care
• Requires that patients are able to see price information before receiving any medical treatment so that they can make better informed decisions

DeMint says, “We will reclaim the money left in [the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)] and use it to pay for this over the next 10 years. That’s it. No new taxes.”

“Unlike President Obama and some congressional leaders’ plans to increase Washington’s power over Americans’ decision making process, this bill would give help to those who need it and expand choices for American families,” said Nina Owcharenko, deputy director of Heritage’s Center for Health Policy Studies. Even liberal health care advocacy group Families USA has said the DeMint bill has some merit.

“We don’t need a multi-trillion dollar government takeover of health care to make reform happen,” DeMint said, noting that malpractice lawsuit reform in his bill would help the health industry help cut down on out-of-control health care costs. “We need to move to more consumerism in the health care sector.”

The new bill comes after ABC News broadcasted for several hours yesterday at the White House, giving President Barack Obama a good portion of the primetime to push his health agenda. While the president stressed in a press conference Wednesday that a public plan would not have unfair advantages over private insurance plans, DeMint said Obama’s claim “is not true.”

“A government option will replace private health insurance — there is no question about it,” he added.