So after a year and a couple of months it appears that we ar in the home stretch. Health Care Reform (HCR) will be a reality for close to 30 million. This has been a long hard-fought battle that has taken its toll on President Obama and the Democrats in Congress, but the finish line is in sight. The official countdown starts now as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released the scoring of the latest Health Care Reform bill. If you recall after the Health Care Summit at the Blair House President Obama added several key Republican points, so the numbers we heard previously concerning the cost of Health Care Reform could change ever so slightly. So what were the CBO findings?
The bill will cost $940 billion over the first 10 years and reduce the deficit by $130 billion during that period. In the second 10 years — so, 2020 to 2029 — it will reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion. The legislation will cover 32 million Americans, or 95 percent of the legal population.
So what exactly happens once The House and Senate pass HCR and President Obama signs the legislation into law? This is a great question and to be honest before last night I could not answer that question, but thanks to Rachel Maddow and her show I have a better idea of what happens next. Please keep in mind the following is a representation of what the HCR bill looked like as of last night.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) releases the score of the HCR Bill ($1.2 Trillion in deficit savings over 20 years) Nancy Pelosi promised that she will delay the House from voting on the Senate version of the bill for 72 hours. She wants to give everyone a chance to review the legislation and understand any changes that were made. With the CBO releasing their scoring of the bill today, the House will more than likely vote on the bill either Sunday or Monday. In the past couple of days there has been some controversy surrounding a House tactic known as “Deem and Pass”. This is a maneuver that will allow the House to pass a bill without actually having a roll call vote on the legislation; it is technically known as a “self-executing rule.” A self-executing rule is essentially a two-for-one special; when the House votes to adopt a self-executing rule, it simultaneously adopts a separate bill or amendment, which is specified in the rule itself. In short, the House “deems” another bill to be passed as soon as it adopts the rule. I know it’s a little confusing; as of right now it has not been decided how the House will handle voting for the HCR Bill.
The legislation will then go back to the Senate to pass any fixes they will apply to the bill; hopefully it will be voted on by the Senate by Easter. Once the bill is passed by the Senate they will then send the bill to the President for final signature that will turn the legislation into law.
Within 90 days:
• The government will create High-Risks Pools that will provide people without health insurance due to pre-existing conditions with immediate to care.
Next 90 days:
• No child will be denied health coverage because of a pre-existing condition
• No longer can insurance companies apply Lifetime Limits on the dollar value on benefits (according to PricewaterhouseCoopers removing limits would reduce Medicaid costs by $1 billion per year)
• Insurance companies will be banned from rescinding coverage if you file a claim. Once you have insurance you will be covered. End of Rescission.
• Anyone with Medicare will be eligible for free annual Wellness visits
• Insurance companies will have to spend 80-85% of what you pay in premiums do towards actual medical care. If they do not spend 80-85% the insurance company will have to pay the difference back to the customer.
• There will be a review of any health insurance rates that are being raised. Insurance companies will have to announce potential rate hikes and submit the proposed raise in rates for review and justify that raise.
• Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny anyone coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
• The Insurance Exchange will provide an exchange for anyone without health insurance to shop for affordable insurance. This exchange will be created and maintained by the government. This setup will mimic what federal employees have access to.
• Insurance companies will no longer be able to apply Annual Limits on the dollar value on benefits (according to PricewaterhouseCoopers removing limits would reduce Medicaid costs by $1 billion per year).
Information is still pouring concerning the HCR bill; for example as I am writing this I just learned that the so-called Medicare “doughnut hole” will be closed this year. Medicare drug plans now stop paying for prescriptions each year once the government and the consumer have spent $2,830 on them. The benefit resumes once annual out-of-pocket spending reaches $4,550.The bill would close that so-called “doughnut hole.” This year, beneficiaries who hit the doughnut hole limit would get $250 rebates.
Hopefully this posting will help clear up some of the confusion associated with Health Care Reform. In the coming days you will hear a lot of information about the HCR bill; both negative and positive. Without a doubt this bill is not perfect and there still a lot of work to be done (Public Option); all I ask is that you keep yourself informed. It’s all about the facts and that goes for both Democrats and Republicans. Here are some sites you can visit to help separate fact from fiction; for example any conversation about this HCR bill creating Death Panels is absolutely absurd. If you don’t believe me look it up yourself:
President Obama will sign the HCR Bill before the Senate will review the fixes voted on by the House. It is expected the president will sign either 3/23/2010 or 3/24/2010. The Democrats in the Senate arehoping to pass the fixes tot he Senate version of HCR by the end of the week (3/26/2010). This could be dragged out until Easter.
If there is something to be said, “Its On Broadway” to step up and say it!!!