What progressives (and everyone else) should know about the accomplishments of health reform

As we look back on that incredibly difficult debate and begin to see some of the new consumer protections take effect, it's increasingly clear that national leaders did the right thing.

With a handy cheat sheet

Pre-existing conditions. As of last week, insurance plans may no longer deny children coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions or include pre-existing condition exclusions for children. For adults, this protection becomes effective 1/1/14. Until then, there has been established a "high-risk pool" that will provide at least some coverage to folks with pre-existing conditions. NOTE: This is a provision Paul Stam wants to roll back.

No more lifetime limits. As of last week, individual and group health plans are now prohibited from placing lifetime limits on the dollar value of coverage or rescinding coverage except in cases of fraud. Annual limits have also been restricted and will be eliminated in 2014. NOTE: This is a provision Paul Stam wants to roll back.

Dependent coverage raised to age 26. As of last week, all insurance plans must now allow young adults to remain on their parents' health insurance up to age 26. NOTE: This is a provision Paul Stam wants to roll back.

Improved Medicare and Medicaid drug coverage. The new law provides a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who reach the Part D coverage gap in 2010. Further subsidies and discounts that ultimately close the coverage gap begin in 2011. It also ups rebate percentages for a variety of drugs under Medicaid. NOTE: This is a provision Paul Stam wants to roll back.

Several other changes are already being implemented. These include new small business tax credits, several improvements to Medicare and Medicaid, and improvements to prevention and medical effectiveness. NOTE: This is a provision Paul Stam wants to roll back.


Thanks for this great summary, Rob

It's important for everyone to remember that all these provisions are opposed by Art Pope Republicans who want to ensure that no North Carolinians get the benefits of reform.

Skip Stam: We're talking to you and all your tea bagger friends who couldn't care less about the needy. So what if thousands of people suffer and die because they don't have basic care. Not your problem, right? Let "someone else" step up and take responsibility? Who's going to do that? Fred "Slopping at the public trough" Eshelman? Tom "Not-Gay" Fetzer?

We're facing multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, Mr. Stam, and health care costs are squarely in the middle of the problem. You have not a clue what to do about it. Not a freakin' clue.

They want to repeal it

before people get a chance to like it.

Did anybody else hear the NPR show recently where they interviewed some folks who had been rescinded? So, this guy pays his premiums for years, but when he eventually had a heart attack (I think), his insurance company refused to pay his bills because he hadn't reported having strep throat (or something) decades before. But they let his wife stay on the policy, until she had some medical bills, then they dropped her, too.

That's enough to make somebody go Postal.


In those two incidents, shouldn't those kinds of things be part of what our HCR bill goes after? I am not an advocate of the whole HCR bill but I do believe that there are things that should be "looked after" on health care like what you showed us here. Most of Americans are not on board with this HCR bill and the law that was initiated because it costs too much and doesn't address things like what you are saying here.

It is part of the bill

The bill makes it much harder for insurance companies to rescind (cancel) coverage for people when bills start coming due.

It will also cost folks money

Someone also has to pay for it.

One of the changes is a reduction in the amount you can save in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). It was $5,000 but starting in 2013, it will drop down to $2,500. Now if you have a medical expense you can plan for, say corrective eye surgery, braces for a kid, having a baby, even an elective surgery on joints or something similar, your ability to pay for it with pre-tax dollars has been cut in half.

Another big change for those with large medical bills is an increase in the medical expense deduction that you can claim at tax time. It used to be that you could deduct any medical expenses over 7.5% of your AGI, with the changes in health care law it will now be any expenses over 10% of your income. Families struggling with medical bills will now also be hit with higher taxes.

The bill also raises $100 billion in taxes on drug manufactures, medical device makers and insurance companies all of which will be passed onto their consumers. When prices start to increase thanks to these taxes, remember that someone always has to pay the bill.

These taxes will be paid by families making under $200,000 a year.

Don't forget about these and other wonderful "accomplishments" in the health care reform.

When prices start to decrease

When prices start to decrease because we finally get spiraling costs under control, just remember that Republicans contributed nothing to the debate other than continuous obstruction of every single proposal to do anything other than "nothing" over the last three decades.

Why will prices descrease?

I'm not seeing anything in the HCR accomplishments you mention that will reduce health care costs. In fact it seems as though they will all add additional demands and patients into our health care system. I'm not seeing any cost containment measures (and I'm definitely not seeing any granny death panels

Why do you believe costs will be contained?

Businesses are already adjusting

Because of the new HCR bill, businesses are already beginning to adjust. This bill will eventually cause a rise in insurance costs according to just about every source available and at the end of the day it may very well force a "public option" because most people/businesses are not going to be able to afford the increase in medical costs.

I may be listening to the wrong sources on this, of course, but even the likes of MSNBC and NBC with their economic analysists are saying this is so. There are options that are not being considered here and I, for one, am concerned why that is so.

One reason

Republican obstruction is the one reason a single payer public option hasn't been on the table ... enabled by Democratic cowardice, of course. Every body with an ounce of sense knows that a single-payer public option is the ultimate low cost model.

If someone wants to buy more insurance or different insurance than what is available from a public option, fine. People buy bottled water when their public option water is perfectly acceptable. People are not rationale.

It's a tragedy we got this cobbled together bill, but it would be ten time more tragic if we stood still and did nothing but cross our fingers and hope things would get better. Things aren't getting better, their getting worse. The gap between haves and have nots is widening. And in my personal opinion, it doesn't have to get a lot wider before people will say enough is enough. I don't expect to be alive then, but I fear for our grandchildren.

The system is out of balance. Too many people suffer too much, both physically and economically. A reset is needed.

The Republican reset is shock therapy, where a whole bunch of people, children especially, get caught in the downward spiral. What do you think happens when you fire 100,000 teachers?