A vote is likely for next week on health reform in the House of Representatives, with votes to reconcile differences and make improvements in the Senate the week after that.
So difference would this reform make? The biggest changes, like the expansion of Medicaid, would not fully kick in until 2014 (these changes take time and some need to be phased in) but there’s a lot of immediate benefits in 2010 that we can anticipate:
In 2010, health reform would:
1. Prevent people from being denied coverage based on “pre-existing conditions.”
– Immediately, people who are uninsured due to a pre-existing condition can buy insurance through a special insurance program. Right now, Californians are left in a lurch: our state has a small, underfunded “high-risk pool” that currently has a waiting list–even though it is estimated that over 400,000 have been denied coverage due to health status.
– Within 6 months of passage, no new health plan could discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions.
– In a few years, no insurance plan could deny coverage to anyone for pre-existing conditions.
2. Provide people with more security, by outlawing the worst insurance company abuses. Insurance companies could:
– No longer cancel insurance coverage retroactively when you get sick. Over 6,000 Californians had their coverage rescinded in the past several years, and health reform would end the practice of rescission.
– No longer put lifetime limits on the dollar value of benefits
– No longer place co-payments or cost-sharing on key preventive benefits
3. Provide real relief to young adults and their families, to seniors, and to small businesses. Health reform would:
– Allow young adults up to age 26 to stay covered on their parents’ insurance
– Reduces prescription drug costs for seniors. Seniors whose spending falls into Medicare’s prescription drug donut hole will have hundreds of dollars of immediate help and the entire coverage gap will be eliminated over time.
– Gives subsidies to small businesses. Small businesses choosing to offer coverage to workers will receive a tax benefit of up to 35% of premiums.
The popularity of health reform is improving, and these specific & immediate benefits will make it more so, once it is passed.