Victory for Health Care
As the President has noted, “For the first time in our nation’s history, Congress has passed comprehensive health care reform. America waited a hundred years and fought for decades to reach this moment. Tonight, thanks to you, we are finally here.
“Consider the staggering scope of what you have just accomplished: Because of you, every American will finally be guaranteed high quality, affordable health care coverage."
Implementation of the Health Care Reform Act’s provisions will be staggered over coming years. Some key changes, and the years they take effect, include:
- Children under 19 years of age with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance coverage.
- Young adults can be covered by their parents’ insurance plans until their 26th birthday.
- Seniors will receive a $250 rebate towards filling the “doughnut hole” in Medicare prescription drug coverage that currently falls between the limit of $2,700 and the threshold for catastrophic coverage, which doesn’t occur until $6,154 of prescription expenses.
- Insurers will be prohibited from canceling policies when a person becomes ill.
- Insurers will be prohibited from placing lifetime limits on benefits and using restrictive annual limits.
- A temporary, high-risk pool will cover uninsured people with medical problems, until 2014 when greater coverage expansion begins.
- Businesses of less than 50 employees will receive tax credits for 35 percent of health care premiums paid for their employees.
- Free annual wellness visits, along with prevention plans, start under Medicare.
- Enrollees in Prescription Drug Plan or Medicare Advantage will receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs.
- The Medicare Payroll Tax will increase. Individuals earning more than $200,000, and married couples earning more than $250,000, will pay 2.35 percent instead of the current 1.45 percent.
- An excise tax of 2.3 percent will be charged on the sale of medical devices.
- Government mandate will require most individuals to have coverage or pay a penalty.
- Insurers will be prohibited from denying coverage or charging more for coverage due to a person’s medical status.
- Insurers will be prohibited from charging women more than men.
- Medicaid eligibility for the non-elderly will be extended to all individuals with incomes below 133 percent of the poverty level.
- Individuals with incomes above the Medicaid eligibility level, but below 400 percent of the poverty level, can receive credits towards insurance coverage.
- High-cost, employer-provided insurance plans will be subject to an excise tax, which will kick in for family plans costing $27,500 or more, and individual plans costing $10,200 or more.
United Methodist Women across the United States have been engaged in faithful actions of justice, acting to ensure that all people experience the right to health care. We and millions of Americans celebrate what this bill will mean for women and their families. The choice that is in front of us is choosing to support this bill or choosing to support the status quo. The proposal is closer to what the church has called for, and what United Methodist Women support, than the status quo. Those are the only two options legislators are evaluating. Please make your support for reform known!
Thank members of Congress and the President for acting with courage by moving America toward health security. And let them know your hopes for the promises they must still keep.
Dial 202-224-3121 to reach the Capitol switchboard, or contact them at their District Office.
Dial 202-456-1414 to reach the White House switchboard.
Read the Book of Resolutions (BOR 2008 ¶3201, Health Care for All in the United States, page 346)