Straight from the Speaker: Major Immediate Provisions of Health Care Bill

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    We have heard little snippets about the Health Care bill signed by President Obama, not to mention more distortions from outraged Republicans, but fortunately Speaker Nancy Pelosi has, with her usual efficiency, listed key provisions which take effect this year (http://www.speaker.gov/blog/?p=2214). You might find this helpful if you have occasion to talk with a nervous and mis-informed voter. Here is a condensed version:

    IF YOU ALREADY HAVE PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE:

    * Prohibits discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions, effective 6 months after enactment—- in 2014 this applies to adults as well

    * No rescissions, that is, health plans cannot drop people from coverage when they get sick, effective 6 months after enactment

    * No lifetime limits on coverage, effective 6 months after enactment

    * Tightly restricts new plans’ use of annual limits, as defined by HHS, effective 6 months after enactment; by 2014 any annual limits will be prohibited in all plans

    * Requires new plans to cover preventive services with no co-payments and exempts those services from deductibles, effective 6 months after enactment

    FOR SENIORS:

    * Provides a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole in 2010, and

    * Beginning in 2011 provides a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs in the donut hole, closing it entirely by 2020

    * Eliminates co-payments for preventive services; exempts these from deductibles under Medicare beginning 1 January 2011

    * Creates a temporary re-insurance program for early retirees (aged 55-64) effective 90 days after enactment

    FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS:

    * Offers tax credits of up to 35 percent of premiums to small businesses to make employee coverage more affordable, effective immediately; by 2014 the tax credit will cover 50 percent of premiums

    Obviously there are a few hundred pages more in the bill, including things like covering offspring under their parents’ plan until age 26 if necessary, but this pretty well puts to rest some major distortions. Oh, and absolutely no death panels.