Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Immediate Benefits of HCR

Here's a list of the top 10 health care reforms that kick in this year with Obama's signature--no waiting until 2014 or whatnot. (Via.)
  1. Adult children may remain as dependents on their parents’ policy until their 27th birthday
  2. Children under age 19 may not be excluded for pre-existing conditions
  3. No more lifetime or annual caps on coverage
  4. Free preventative care for all
  5. Adults with pre-existing conditions may buy into a national high-risk pool until the exchanges come online. While these will not be cheap, they’re still better than total exclusion and get some benefit from a wider pool of insureds.
  6. Small businesses will be entitled to a tax credit for 2009 and 2010, which could be as much as 50% of what they pay for employees’ health insurance.
  7. The “donut hole” closes for Medicare patients, making prescription medications more affordable for seniors.
  8. Requirement that all insurers must post their balance sheets on the Internet and fully disclose administrative costs, executive compensation packages, and benefit payments.
  9. Authorizes early funding of community health centers in all 50 states (Bernie Sanders’ amendment). Community health centers provide primary, dental and vision services to people in the community, based on a sliding scale for payment according to ability to pay.
  10. AND no more rescissions. Effective immediately, you can't lose your insurance because you get sick.
To toss out a few additional thoughts on HCR, I think Jon Chait makes a good case that ObamaCare is actually based on a bunch of moderate-to-conservative ideas that Republicans would probably support if it had been proposed by their side.
Obama's plan closely mirrors three proposals that have attracted the support of Republicans who reside within their party's mainstream: The first is the 1993 Senate Republican health plan, which is compared with Obama's plan here, with the similarity endorsed by former Republican Senator Dave Durenberger here. The second is the Bipartisan Policy Center plan, endorsed by Bob Dole, Howard Baker, George Mitchell and Tom Daschle, which is compared to Obama's plan here. And the third, of course, is Mitt Romney's Massachusetts plan, which was crafted by the same economist who helped create Obama's plan, and which is rhetorically indistinguishable from Obama's.

And finally, a lot has been written in the past few days about how instrumental Obama and Nancy Pelosi were in getting this passed, but I think big credit is due to Harry Reid also. When I first came to DC, I remember hearing some crusty old political reporter talk about how the Senate Majority Leader is by far the hardest and most under-appreciated job in town because they are responsible for dealing with the 100 biggest egos in the country. As a result most Majority Leaders come off as slightly bumbling and Reid is no exception. But still. Dude got 60 votes on health care reform. Not to shabby.

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