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A Message From the White House Office of Health Reform

Good afternoon,

Since the House of Representatives voted to pass health reform legislation on Sunday night, the legislative process and its political impact have been the focus of all the newspapers and cable TV pundits.

Outside of DC, however, many Americans are trying to cut through the chatter and get to the substance of reform with a simple question: “What does health insurance reform actually mean for me?” To help, we’ve put together some of the key benefits from health insurance reform.

Let’s start with how health insurance reform will expand and strengthen coverage:

  * This year, children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be
    denied health insurance coverage. Once the new health insurance
    exchanges begin in the coming years, pre-existing condition
    discrimination will become a thing of the past for everyone.
  * This year, health care plans will allow young people to remain on
    their parents’ insurance policy up until their 26th birthday.
  * This year, insurance companies will be banned from dropping people
    from coverage when they get sick, and they will be banned from
    implementing lifetime caps on coverage. This year, restrictive
    annual limits on coverage will be banned for certain plans. Under
    health insurance reform, Americans will be ensured access to the
    care they need.
  * This year, adults who are uninsured because of pre-existing
    conditions
will have access to affordable insurance through a
    temporary subsidized high-risk pool.
  * In the next fiscal year, the bill increases funding for community
    health centers
, so they can treat nearly double the number of
    patients over the next five years.
  * This year, we’ll also establish an independent commission to
    advise on how best to build the health care workforce and increase
    the number of nurses, doctors and other professionals to meet our
    country’s needs.  Going forward, we will provide $1.5 billion in
    funding to support the next generation of doctors, nurses and
    other primary care practitioners — on top of a $500 million
    investment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Health insurance reform will also curb some of the worst insurance industry practices and strengthen consumer protections:

  * This year, this bill creates a new, independent appeals process
    that ensures consumers in new private plans have access to an
    effective process to appeal decisions made by their insurer.
  * This year, discrimination based on salary will be outlawed. New
    group health plans will be prohibited from establishing any
    eligibility rules for health care coverage that discriminate in
    favor of higher-wage employees.
  * Beginning this fiscal year, this bill provides funding to states
    to help establish offices of health insurance consumer assistance
    in order to help individuals in the process of filing complaints
    or appeals against insurance companies.
  * Starting January 1, 2011, insurers in the individual and small
    group market will be required to spend 80 percent of their premium
    dollars on medical services. Insurers in the large group market
    will be required to spend 85 percent of their premium dollars on
    medical services. Any insurers who don’t meet those thresholds
    will be required to provide rebates to their policyholders.
  * Starting in 2011, this bill helps states require insurance
    companies
to submit justification for requested premium increases.
    Any company with excessive or unjustified premium increases may
    not be able to participate in the new health insurance exchanges.

Reform immediately begins to lower health care costs for American families and small businesses:

  * This year, small businesses that choose to offer coverage will
    begin to receive tax credits of up to 35 percent of premiums to
    help make employee coverage more affordable.
  * This year, new private plans will be required to provide free
    preventive care: no co-payments and no deductibles for preventive
    services. And beginning January 1, 2011, Medicare will do the same.
  * This year, this bill will provide help for early retirees by
    creating a temporary re-insurance program to help offset the costs
    of expensive premiums for employers and retirees age 55-64.
  * This year, this bill starts to close the Medicare Part D ‘donut
    hole’ by providing a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit
    the gap in prescription drug coverage. And beginning in 2011, the
    bill institutes a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the ‘donut
    hole
.’

Thank you,

Nancy-Ann DeParle
Director, White House Office of Health Reform

 Visit WhiteHouse.gov

THE TEA PARTY & THE CIRCUS – Final Healthcare Reform Protest

If you are going to protest something shouldn’t you know what it is you are protesting??

Healthcare and Taxes

Every once and a while I post something that is.. well political. Last Friday, I had a very brief discussion with a friend about taxes. One of my comments was that we are one if not the lowest taxed industrialized countries. I also, said I think we are under taxed. Well, I was reminded of this today when I read a statement from Michael Moore (see quote below). Of course about now many of you are probably branding me as a bleeding heart liberal intent on big government blah, blah… Just for saying that I think we are under taxed, and I must be a liberal if I mention Michael Moore. I will only caution that we should all drop the silly categorizations (Liberal, Conservative, etc..) and actually think about things. If we can get past the laziness of these labels, maybe, just maybe some things will actually change for the better.

With that said let me clarify. Our government spends billions upon billions on a war that was never officially declared war. (For it to be an official war, congress must declare war. The president has a constitutional right to move troops but not to declare war.) Congress never declared war on Iraq. Here’s an article to support that. Who Can Declare War? Backgrounder and Research Guide and Section 8: Powers of Congress But, that is another topic. Even as the US goes further and further in debt, taxes are cut and the administration claims it is trimming the budget. Now, none of the trimming is coming off of the “War in Iraq”. It’s coming from things like after school programs, literacy programs, they tried with social security as well as health care. Now, it would seem very obvious to me, what is more important use of US tax dollars: A widely discredited “war”, or programs that directly help the American people? In the end though, the USA general public is broadly mislead to believe that a tax cut is really going to help them and help put more money in their pockets. And still we continue to have alarming numbers of bankruptcies in the US. One of the major causes of bankruptcy is medical bills. This brings me to the Moore quote. I leave the rest to him:

“THAT’S the only thing we should be talking about. How profit and greed are killing our fellow Americans. How profit and private insurance have to be removed from our health care system. CNN should join me in asking why our 9/11 rescue workers aren’t receiving medical care. Somebody should send a crew to Canada to find out why they live longer than we do, and why no Canadian has ever gone bankrupt because of medical bills. And all of the media should start saying how much it costs to go to a doctor in these other top industrialized countries: Nothing. Zip. It’s FREE. Don’t patronize Americans by saying, “Well, it’s not free — they pay for it with taxes!” Yes, we know that. Just like we know that we drive down a city street for FREE — even though we paid for that street with our taxes. The street is FREE, the book at the library is FREE, if your house catches on fire, the fire department will come and put it out for FREE, and if someone snatches your purse, the police officer will chase down the culprit and bring your purse back to you — AND HE WON’T CHARGE YOU A DIME FROM THAT PURSE!

These are all free services, collectively socialized and paid for with our tax dollars. To argue that health care — a life and death issue for many — should not be considered in the same league is ludicrous and archaic. And trust me, once you add up what you pay for out-of-pocket in premiums, deductibles, co-pays, overpriced medicines, and treatments that aren’t covered (not to mention all the other things we pay for like college education, day care and other services that many countries provide for at little or no cost), we, as Americans, are paying far more than the Canadians or Brits or French are paying in taxes. We just don’t call these things taxes, but that’s exactly what they are.”