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Fixed-fee medical plans advance

(AP) Legislation aimed at protecting a growing health care model where patients pay their doctors a periodic fee in return for agreed-upon primary care services is moving toward becoming law.

The Virginia Senate narrowly approved the measure Wednesday despite strong opposition from the health insurance industry.

Supporters of direct primary care agreements say they act like a subscription, providing an affordable and predictable way for the uninsured or people with high deductible insurance to cover their primary health care costs. Advocates say passing a law codifying the practice would prevent doctors from facing illegitimate but costly lawsuits from insurance companies.

Opponents say the agreements should be regulated like health insurance is in order to protect consumers from unscrupulous doctors.

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