Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Affordable Health Care Act Updates

For those wishing to keep up with recent developments on the Affordable Health Care Act, here are a selection of links:

ABC's The Note: House Dems Highlight Hazards of Health Care Repeal (1/18), excerpt of PA connection:

A panel of witnesses described how health care repeal could hurt them in the future. Stacie Ritter of Lancaster, PA, the mother of twin daughters who have been diagnosed with leukemia, described how she and her husband ended up bankrupt even though they have full insurance coverage. Ritter urged lawmakers to fight against repeal, emphasizing how much the new law meant to her and others.

“You have no idea how much it meant to a lot of people,” she told the panel. “I know you only got to hear the bad because that’s all that the news will play, but believe me it was greatly greatly appreciated.”

Igor Volsky writes "Do As I Say, Not As I Do: 97% Of House GOP Still Holding On To Their Congressional Health Plans" in Think Progress's The Wonk Room (1/18), excerpt:
– REP. MICHAEL GRIMM (R-NY): Freshman Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY) rejected claims that it was hypocritical for him to receive health coverage that provided the same consumer protections he was trying to repeal for others. “What am I, not supposed to have health care?” Later, he said the reason to have coverage is “practicality. I’m not going to become a burden for the state because I don’t have health care and, God forbid I get into an accident and I can’t afford the operation…That can happen to anyone.” [Hotline On Call, 1/6/11]

Indeed, by 2014, uninsured Americans will be able to enroll in “PRIVATE insurance” through a series of state-based exchanges that will attempt to attract younger and healthier enrollees — like Schock — who could bring down premiums for the entire risk pool. The mandate will require these individuals to purchase insurance so that they don’t “become a burden for the state” once they require medical attention.

Greg Sargent writes "Do Americans really want health law fully repealed?" on The Washington Post's Plum Line (1/18), excerpt:
Two new polls in the former category -- a straight choice -- came out today. Quinnipiac finds that people favor repeal over letting the health bill stand, 48-43. CNN finds that people want full repeal by 50-42.

But when people are offered a broader set of choices, opinion shifts. The Associated Press released a poll this weekend finding that 43 percent want the law changed so it does more, versus only 26 percent who want it fully repealed. A Marist poll last week found the same, with 35 percent wanting the law expanded versus 30 percent who want it scrapped completely.

The White House blog notes that as of today people can designate who they would like to visit them in the hospital:
"There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean – a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them."

With those words on April 15, 2010 President Obama directed HHS Secretary Sebelius to initiate rulemaking to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors. The President further advised that the rule should ensure that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges based on factors including sexual orientation or gender identity.

Today the new Hospital Visitation Regulations go into effect.

From "Experts doubt claims health care law is a 'job killer'," by David Lightman, Kansas City Star (1/17), excerpt:
Saying that the law is a job killer doesn't necessarily make it one, however, and independent experts say that such a conclusion is at least premature, if not unfounded.

"The claim has no justification," said Micah Weinberg, a senior research fellow at the centrist New America Foundation's Health Policy Program.

Since the law contains dual mandates that most individuals must obtain health insurance coverage and most employers must offer it by 2014, "the effect on employment is probably zero or close to it," said Amitabh Chandra, a professor of public policy at Harvard University.

The House of Representatives Dept of Energy & Commerce has compiled an interactive map showing the impact of repealing the health care reform act by metropolitan area or congressional district.

David Wessel writes "Health-law repeal hardly a panacea for CEO's concerns," in the Wall Street Journal (1/13), excerpt:
The big-company Business Roundtable is quieter: Many of its members doubt the Obama law does enough to restrain costs, but regard repeal as neither practical nor wise. Wal-Mart, for one, echoes this, saying, in effect: We don't want to go back to where we were.

At the National Business Group on Health, a collection of nearly 300 big employers, President Helen Darling, a former corporate-benefit administrator and Republican Senate staffer, says about executives who call for repeal: "If they really understood it, they wouldn't."

"I don't think we'll get a better solution in the U.S. in our lifetime" she said. "If it gets repealed, or gutted, we'll have to start over and we'll be worse off."

Lastly, from the inbox:
New report: 5.5 million Pennsylvania residents with a pre-existing condition could be denied coverage without new health reform law

Without Affordable Care Act protections, in 2014, 1 in 2 non-elderly Americans could be denied coverage or charged more due to a pre-existing condition

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today released a new analysis showing that, without the Affordable Care Act, up to 5.5 million non-elderly Pennsylvania residents who have some type of pre-existing health condition, like heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis or cancer, would be at risk of losing health insurance when they need it most, or be denied coverage altogether. Across the country, up to 129 million Americans would be at risk.

Under the full range of policies in the Affordable Care Act to be enacted by 2014, Americans living with pre-existing conditions are free from discrimination and can get the health coverage they need, and families are free from the worry of having their insurance cancelled or capped when a family member gets sick, or going broke because of the medical costs of an accident or disease. Repealing the law would once again leave millions of Americans worrying about whether coverage will be there when they need it.

“The Affordable Care Act is stopping insurance companies from discriminating against Americans with pre-existing conditions and is giving us all more freedom and control over our health care decisions,” said Secretary Sebelius. “The new law is already helping to free Americans from the fear that an insurer will drop, limit or cap their coverage when they need it most. And Americans living with pre-existing conditions are being freed from discrimination in order to get the health coverage they need.”

The analysis found that:

· Anywhere from 50 to 129 million (19 to 50 percent) of Americans under age 65 have some type of pre-existing condition. Examples of what may be considered a pre-existing condition include:

· Heart disease

· Cancer

· Asthma

· High blood pressure

· Arthritis

· Older Americans between ages 55 and 64 are at particular risk; 48 to 86 percent of people in that age bracket live with a pre-existing condition.

· 15 to 30 percent of people under age 65 in perfectly good health today are likely to develop a pre-existing condition over the next eight years.

· Up to one in five Americans under age 65 with a pre-existing condition – 25 million individuals – is uninsured.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, in the vast majority of states, insurance companies in the individual market could deny coverage, charge higher premiums, and/or limit benefits based on pre-existing conditions. Surveys have found that 36 percent of Americans who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market encountered challenges purchasing health insurance for these reasons.

A number of protections are already in place thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Insurers can no longer limit lifetime coverage to a fixed dollar amount or take away coverage because of a mistake on an application. Young adults have the option of staying on their parents’ coverage up to the age of 26 if they lack access to job-based insurance of their own, and insurers cannot deny coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition.

Many uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions have already enrolled in the temporary high-risk pool program called the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), which provides private insurance to those locked out of the insurance market because of a preexisting condition. The PCIP program – which has already saved people’s lives by covering services like chemotherapy – serves as a bridge until 2014, when insurance companies can no longer deny or limit coverage or charge higher premiums because of a preexisting condition. There is a Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan available in every State, and more information can be found at www.HealthCare.gov.

In addition to the ban on discrimination against people with preexisting conditions, in 2014, individuals and small businesses will have access to new, high-quality insurance choices through competitive marketplaces called health insurance Exchanges.

The report can be found at www.HealthCare.gov/center/reports/preexisting.html, and more information about the new protections created by the Affordable Care Act and the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan can be found at www.HealthCare.gov.

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