March 26, 2010
On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the most sweeping changes to our health insurance system since the enactment of Medicare in 1965.
Among the usual guests at the bill signing ceremony in the White House – figures like Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, and the Vice President, Joe Biden – was 11-year-old Marcelas Owens of Seattle, WA. Marcelas’ mother died in 2007 after losing her job and her health insurance, one of 45,000 people every year that die because they lack insurance, according to a Harvard Medical School study published last Fall.
The bill signed by the President will go a long way in changing that grim statistic. When all the provisions of the statute go into effect by 2019, the bill ensures 95% of Americans not covered by Medicare will have health insurance.
While it will take time to implement some protections, many benefits of the new law are effective immediately, including:
- Coverage for dependent children is extended up to age 26.
- Children cannot be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
- Prohibit insurance co. from dropping your coverage when you get sick.
- Provide immediate access to coverage in a temporary high-risk pool for folks who can’t get coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
- Gives $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the Part D donut hole in 2010.
- Eliminates lifetime and annual caps.
- Offer small business tax credits to purchase coverage.
- At least 85% of premium dollars must be spent on care (80% for small groups, individual plans).
In 2014, many new protections will go into effect, including those to reach near universal insurance coverage.
UPDATE: Congress approves raft of reform fixes
From the AFL-CIO Blog:
After Senate Republicans failed yesterday in their last desperate attempt to kill health care reform and allow the insurance industry to control the nation’s health care system, the House last night passed the final piece of legislation that puts working families in charge of their health care.
In a 220-207 vote, the House approved the health care reconciliation bill that fixes several flaws in the health care reform legislation President Obama signed this week – including significantly reducing the tax on working families’ benefits. Says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.):
With this legislation in place, families will have access to even more affordable care than the reform the president signed this week. Seniors will see the prescription drug “donut hole” close faster, and they will start paying less for their prescription drugs this year. Taxpayers will not pay for special deals that favor one state over another, and primary care doctors will receive fair pay for providing critical services to low-income Americans.