Only President Obama’s signature is required to extend health care insurance to 32 million uninsured Americans. Most of these reforms will not take effect until January 1, 2014. Some will be available in six months. For instance,
1. New insurance policies must permit adult children to stay on their parents’ policies until they are 26 years old.
2. New insurance policies will cover the full cost of preventive care, including annual physicals and immunizations for children.
3. Small businesses with fewer than 25 employees and average yearly wages up to $50,000 will receive tax credits to offset the cost of buying insurance for their workers.
4. Children with medical conditions will not be denied coverage. States will receive $5 billion to create high-risk insurance pools to provide affordable coverage to adults with pre-existing conditions. Insurers will be barred from imposing lifetime limits on benefits and from dropping people when they file a claim.
5. Medicare drug benefits for seniors will increase. Effective July 1, 2010, there will be a 50% discount on brand-name drugs for low-income elderly persons.
6. No funds from the health reform package will be used for abortion services or abortion coverage. This item was obtained by Representative Bart Stupak, a Democrat from Michigan, along with his anti-abortion faction who withheld their support of the bill because of language which amounted to taxpayer funding of abortions. He then received a promise from President Obama to sign an executive order stating that no federal funding from the bill can be used to fund abortions. This is in keeping with the Hyde Amendment of 1976 which is still in place.
After January 1, 2014,
1. Pre-existing conditions cannot bar you from receiving health coverage.
2. Insurance companies will be prevented from dropping or denying coverage based on a person’s medical history.
3. Every single American will be required to purchase health insurance or pay a fine of up to $750 a year. Businesses with more than 50 workers will also face significant fines if they do not provide insurance for their employees.
4. Individuals will be able to shop for insurances on health care exchanges and the cost will be provided by the government if they cannot afford it.
The bill to the United States government for health care reform is estimated to reach $940 billion over a ten-year period. It is also estimated that it will reduce the federal deficit by $240 billion in the next ten years and by $1.2 trillion during the following ten years.
All Republicans and 34 Democrats voted against the bill. We will leave it to the pundits to debate whether this was a partisan ploy. In any case, President Barack Obama will be remembered as the Father of National Health Care in the United States.