Health Care Reform Package Ready for President's SignatureMarch 22, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010, marked a historic day for people with lupus and other chronic diseases. The Health Care Reform package is projected to extend insurance coverage to approximately 32 million Americans (about 94% of Americans) who currently do not have health insurance as well as provide some much-needed protections for people with lupus and other chronic diseases. The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4872 and H.R. 3590 by a vote of 219-212 on March 21, 2010. H.R. 3590 was the Senate-passed health plan which will go to the President for his signature and H.R. 4872 is a reconciliation package with House-proposed changes that will now go to the Senate for their vote where some changes may still occur.
Some of the protections included in the Health Care Reform package, as voted on March 21st, are listed below:
- The bill bans insurance companies from dropping people from coverage when they become ill, effective 6 months after the enactment of the bill.
- This bill will prohibit health insurers from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, effective 6 months after the bill is enacted. Beginning in 2014, this prohibition would apply to all people with pre-existing conditions.
- A temporary national high-risk pool will be established to provide health coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. People who have been uninsured for at least 6 months will be eligible to enroll in the high-risk pool and receive subsidized premiums. This provision will be effective 90 days from the enactment of the bill until 2014 when all health insurers would be required to provide insurance regardless of any pre-existing conditions.
- Health plans will be required to allow young people, until their 26th birthday, to remain on their parents’ insurance policy, effective 6 months from the enactment of the bill.
- The Medicare Part D coverage gap “donut hole” will begin to close. Under current law, Medicare stops covering drug costs after a plan and beneficiary have spent more than $2,830 on prescription drugs. The new bill provides a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole in 2010. Beginning in 2011, a 50% discount on name-brand drugs will be instituted in the donut hole; also the donut hole will be completely closed by 2020.
- This legislation will ban annual and lifetime limits on health care coverage, effective 6 months from the enactment of the bill.