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What health care reform means to you

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

For uninsured Americans, passage of the Affordable Health Care for America Act means access to affordable and quality health care. The health reform bill will not cover abortions. Out of pocket spending limit is set at 5000 dollars annually. The bill includes tax subsidies for those below poverty level and expands Medicaid, and fines for employers who do not offer health insurance and for individuals without health care insurance.

• The health reform bill creates a national exchange for uninsured individuals and small businesses to buy health insurance.

• With a public health insurance option the Secretary of Health and Human Services will negotiate reimbursement rates with hospitals and physicians.

• Out of pocket spending would not exceed 5000 dollars per individual annually, and caps are placed on deductibles for health insurance.

• Insurers cannot deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.

• Parents could provide coverage to children up to age twenty-seven.

• One of the most exciting benefits of health care reform includes elimination of the Medicare doughnut hole for ten years. Many senior citizens forgo medications to pay utility bills and buy food when they reach Medicare stage 2 drug coverage and are forced to pay full price for medications that are absolutely cost prohibitive for anyone.

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• Medicaid will be expanded to 150 percent of poverty level – previously allowable at 100 percent.

• The health reform bill will not cover abortions, but women can purchase an abortion coverage option.

• Individuals making over 500,000 dollars annually, couples whose income is over 1 million dollars yearly will be taxed at 5.4 percent.

• Physicians who treat Medicare Advantage patients will no longer be able to charge fourteen percent more than they traditionally charge for Medicare recipients.

• Based on a sliding scale, individuals whose income is below poverty level will receive tax subsidies, as would small businesses.

• Penalties for not having health insurance include 2.5 percent of gross annual income for individuals, and eight percent of payroll for employers. Small business owners would be exempt from fines for no health insurance if payroll does not exceed 5000 dollars

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine summed up passage of the health reform act by saying, "The Affordable Health Care for America Act will provide more security and stability to people who already have insurance by enacting much needed reforms to the insurance industry. No longer will an insurance company be able to deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition, or cancel someone's coverage when they get sick. The Act will provide more quality, affordable choices for the millions of Americans who are uninsured. And the bill will bring down the high costs of care, for American families and businesses, while lowering our deficit.”

One of the most heartfelt statements about health reform comes from Republican NY congressman Paul D.Tonko “To me, health care reform is about helping people, not politics. It’s about giving everyone access to affordable, quality health care. With this legislation, we bring quality health care within reach of millions of Americans, and enhance the care that those with insurance and Medicare already receive.”

Affordable health insurance that means access to quality health care will become a reality for Americans, pending passage of the health reform bill in the Senate. Highlights of the bill include closure of the doughnut hole for seniors and access to health insurance for 22000 uninsured Americans.