1. BEGINS TO CLOSE THE MEDICARE PART D DONUT HOLE — Reduces the donut hole by $500 and institutes a 50% discount on brand-name drugs, effective January 1, 2010.
2. IMMEDIATE HELP FOR THE UNINSURED UNTIL EXCHANGE IS AVAILABLE (INTERIM HIGH-RISK POOL) — Creates a temporary insurance program until the Exchange is available for individuals who have been uninsured for several months or have been denied a policy because of pre-existing conditions.
3. BANS LIFETIME LIMITS ON COVERAGE — Prohibits health insurance companies from placing lifetime caps on coverage.
4. ENDS RESCISSIONS — Prohibits insurers from nullifying or rescinding a patient’s policy when they file a claim for benefits, except in the case of fraud.
5. EXTENDS COVERAGE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE UP TO 27TH BIRTHDAY THROUGH PARENTS’ INSURANCE — Requires health plans to allow young people through age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance policy, at the parents’ choice.
6. ELIMINATES COST-SHARING FOR PREVENTIVE SERVICES IN MEDICARE — Eliminates co-payments for preventive services and exempts preventive services from deductibles under the Medicare program.
7. IMPROVES HELP FOR LOW-INCOME MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES — Improves the low-income protection programs in Medicare to assure more individuals are able to access this vital help.
8. PROVIDES NEW CONSUMER PROTECTIONS IN MEDICARE ADVANTAGE — Prohibits Medicare Advantage plans from charging enrollees higher cost-sharing for services in their private plan than what is charged in traditional Medicare.
9. IMMEDIATE SUNSHINE ON PRICE GOUGING — Discourages excessive price increases by insurance companies through review and disclosure of insurance rate increases.
10. CONTINUITY FOR DISPLACED WORKERS — Allows Americans to keep their COBRA coverage until the Exchange is in place and they can access affordable coverage.
11. CREATES NEW, VOLUNTARY, PUBLIC LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE PROGRAM — Creates a long-term care insurance program to be financed by voluntary payroll deductions to provide benefits to adults who become functionally disabled.
12. HELP FOR EARLY RETIREES — Creates a $10 billon fund to finance a temporary reinsurance program to help offset the costs of expensive health claims for employers that provide health benefits for retirees age 55-64.
13. COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS — Increases funding for Community Health Centers to allow for a doubling of the number of patients seen by the centers over the next 5 years.
14. INCREASING NUMBER OF PRIMARY CARE DOCTORS — Provides new investment in training programs to increase the number of primary care doctors, nurses, and public health professionals.
What Will Health Care Reform Do Right Away?
One of the biggest problems for Democrats going forward is that they have failed to properly inform the American people that most of the planned health care reforms will not kick in until 2013. This is huge potential political ticking time bomb of disappointment, confusion, and anger going into the 2010 mid-term election. Very few if any uninsured Americans will gain coverage until after the 2012 elections. To deal with the problem, House Democrats tried to front load some of the least costly reforms right away. Below is a list of the 14 reforms that, under the House plan, will kick in 2010. You can judge for yourself if the voting public will think it is sufficient.
By Jon Walker