The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, January 14, 2011


By The Building Tradesman

Repeal health care bill GOP?

You sure?

Last year’s passage of the “Affordable Care Act,” – or the health care reform bill, as it has come to be known – has been much maligned for a number of reasons.

Critics say it’s too costly, is a classic case of government over-reach, is too intrusive because it requires most citizens to purchase health insurance, is allegedly unconstitutional, and at 1,990 pages in length, has entirely too many unknowns. But the Act does plenty of good things that you will likely never hear about on Fox News or from Rush Limbaugh.

House Republicans have vowed to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, outright. That’s nearly impossible, unless they can get it past the Senate and over-ride President Obama’s veto, but they may be able to chip away at the law by under-funding it or winning a lawsuit. Let’s say health care reform is repealed. Then what?

Besides lowering the federal budget deficit by $140 billion over the next 10 years (according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office) the health care reform act is already doing the following, beginning Sept. 23, 2010 and in some cases, Jan. 1, 2011:

*The new law guarantees that children under 19 with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage.

*If your health plan covers children, you can now most likely add or keep your children on your health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old if they don’t have coverage on the job.

*Limits are placed on insurance company premium hikes.

*Insurance companies cannot cancel your policy without proving fraud. Health plans can’t retroactively cancel insurance coverage – often at the time you need it most – solely because you or your employer made an honest mistake on your insurance application.

*Health plans can no longer put a lifetime dollar limit on the benefits of people with costly conditions like cancer.

*If your insurance company doesn’t spend at least 80 percent of its premium dollars on health care, it may be forced to give rebates to you and other consumers.

*Prescription drug costs could shrink $700 for a typical Medicare beneficiary in 2011, as the law begins to close the “donut hole.” The National Council on Aging estimates the savings could reach $1,800 for some.

*Claims cannot be denied without a chance for appeal. In new health plans, you now have the right to demand that your health plan reconsider a decision to deny payment for a test or treatment. That also includes an external appeal to an independent reviewer.

*Medicare enrollees will be able to get many preventive health services – such as vaccinations and cancer screenings – for free starting this month.

*Medicare beneficiaries also can get a free annual “wellness exam” from their doctors who will set up a “personalized prevention plan” for them.

*Companies with fewer than 100 workers who start wellness programs focused on nutrition, smoking cessation, physical fitness and stress management are be eligible for grants from a $200 million federal program.

*More than 4,000 employer health plans have been approved for aid to offset health care costs of early retirees.

*Cost savings, anti-fraud provisions and other requirements will keep Medicare financially solvent.

(Sources: Kaiser Health News, via the AFL-CIO and