Ok, maybe I’m being a bit extreme but I am getting really, really tired of the rhetoric I’m hearing now about the horrors of the 2010 health care reform bill. I’m just going to bet that most of the people trashing it don’t have the slightest clue what it means and what it includes and what it could do.
Is it perfect?
But then, the only perfect things in this world are a newborn baby and the fois gras with sauteed apples I had for dinner last Saturday night (oh, and the Penfolds Grange wine my husband surprised me with on our 15th anniversary).
I’m not going to autopsy the health care reform bill here now (It’s nearly midnight and I really need to get to bed). However, I just wrote an article about the costs of treating rheumatoid arthritis and what health care reform might mean for the millions of people in this country with the disease. It will appear at www.lifescript.com in the next week or two. In the meantime, however, I think that what I’ve written applies to any person with any chronic health condition, whether it’s depression or cancer. In a nutshell, the bill should:
Provide easier access to affordable health care. The high unemployment rate in this country has left many Americans unable to find affordable health insurance. Beginning January 1, 2014, however, insurers must renew and issue health insurance regardless of an individual’s health status. The law also prohibits pricing based on preexisting conditions. Tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies will also be available. In the meantime, the federal government has created the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan to provide health coverage to individuals with preexisting medical conditions who have been uninsured for at least 6 months.
Eliminate the doughnut hole. In 2010, Medicare beneficiaries who reached the doughnut hole received checks for $250 to help cover drug costs. In 2011, drug manufacturers will have to provide a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs for those who reach the doughnut hole. Over the next nine years, various changes will reduce out-of-pocket costs for those who reach the doughnut hole until the gap is completely eliminated in 2020.
Open the door for generic versions of biologic drugs. One reason biologic drugs (which are used to treat a growing number of chronic health conditions like cancer and autoimmune diseases) are so expensive is because they have no competition—or even the potential for competition. Under healthcare reform, the Food and Drug Administration can now approve generic versions, which should be less expensive than the branded versions.
Change health plan appeal processes. Effective with new policies beginning in September 2010, new health plans have to implement an effective process for appeals and establish an external review process.
Again, is the healthcare reform bill perfect? NO. But, as I’ve said many times in this blog, it is a first step, one we desperately needed. Repealing the law because it’s not perfect would be like cutting off your toddler’s legs because she stumbled when she tried to walk for the first time.
Again, as I’ve said before in this blog, please chill. Take a breath. Let’s focus on what’s good in healthcare reform and implement it; and on what could be better and fix it. But let’s not ditch the whole thing and start over.
People, we simply do not have time for that.