By now, you’ve probably heard of that new health care bill that would extend health care benefits to 32 million uninsured Americans, as well as help to regulate the health insurance industry. Last night, the House of Representatives voted 219-212 to send the bill to President Obama, in order for him to sign it into law on Tuesday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “We will be joining those who established Social Security, Medicare and now, tonight, health care for all Americans.” Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina added, “This is the civil rights act of the 21st century.”
Sounds great. But what all does this health care bill really entail? According to MSNBC.com:
Changes that would occur this year include:
- Dependent children could remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26.
- Senior citizens would get more help paying for drugs in Medicare.
- People with health problems that left them uninsurable could qualify for coverage through a federal program.
These are among the more than a dozen features of the new health care overhaul law that would take effect in 2010 under the measure passed Sunday. (Although the Senate bill approved Sunday by the House would become law with President Barack Obama’s signature, Senate action is needed on the separately-passed House measure that would amend that law.) Other first-year items include a ban on lifetime limits on medical coverage, more oversight of premium increases and tax credits for some small businesses.
The big changes in the law — the ones that could affect tens of millions of people — don’t kick in until at least 2014. Those include insurance marketplaces called “exchanges”; rules requiring insurers to accept all applicants, even those with health problems, and an expansion of state Medicaid programs.
So if this legislation becomes law, the expansion of health insurance coverage would include 95% of eligible Americans under age 65. And, from the fiscal side of things, the deficit would be cut by an estimated $138 billion over 10 years. Also, insurers would no longer be able to deny anyone coverage because of any pre-existing medical conditions on their record. Seniors would also be able to get more financial help from Medicare for their drugs. And, last but not least, I could stay on my parents’ health insurance plan until I’m 26.
Hmm… I approve.
To read more about the bill, visit MSNBC.com.
(Photo courtesy of Associated Press.)