"It is with mixed emotions that I write with news that, tonight, the House of Representatives passed the health-reform bill.If you want to go right to the source and bypass all the punditry, here's the actual bill that was passed: HR 4872. And a good summary of what the bill actually DOES say (see the column on the left).
I am extremely disappointed to tell you that the final package includes the insulting, unworkable Nelson restriction on abortion coverage in the new system.
As you may recall, the Nelson language requires Americans in the new system to write two separate checks if the health plan they choose includes abortion coverage. This unacceptable bureaucratic stigmatization could cause insurance carriers to stop covering abortion care. This would represent a major setback, given that more than 85 percent of private plans cover this care for women today.
Despite this totally unacceptable anti-choice provision, reform will bring more than 30 million Americans into a system that includes affordable family-planning services and maternity care for women. It also outlaws some discriminatory insurance-industry practices that make health care more expensive for women. Improving women’s access to birth control and prenatal care and making reproductive-health care more affordable are also at the core of our mission...
Ultimately, we determined that we could not endorse this bill due to the abortion-coverage restrictions. But, we also could not, in good conscience, call for the bill’s outright defeat and deny millions of American women the promise of better—although imperfect—health-care services that are an important part of our pro-choice values."
Here's a good summary of the Immediate Effects of the Bill (from the Kaizer Foundation):
- Discounts and free care in Medicare: The approximately 4 million Medicare beneficiaries who hit the so-called “doughnut hole” in the program’s drug plan will get a $250 rebate this year. Next year, their cost of drugs in the coverage gap will go down by 50 percent. Preventive care, such as some types of cancer screening, will be free of co-payments or deductibles starting this year.
- Coverage of kids: Parents will be allowed to keep their children on their health insurance plan until age 26, unless the child is eligible for coverage through a job. Insurance plans cannot exclude pre-existing medical conditions from coverage for children under age 19, although insurers could still reject those children outright for coverage in the individual market until 2014.
- Tax credits for businesses: Businesses with fewer than 25 employees and average wages of less than $50,000 could qualify for a tax credit of up to 35 percent of the cost of their premiums.
- Changes to insurance: All existing insurance plans will be barred from imposing lifetime caps on coverage. Restrictions will also be placed on annual limits on coverage. Insurers can no longer cancel insurance retroactively for things other than outright fraud.
- Government oversight: Insurers must report how much they spend on medical care versus administrative costs, a step that later will be followed by tighter government review of premium increases.