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Health Care Reform Provisions Will Kick in Soon

Kids, small businesses and Medicare recipients will benefit

May. 26, 2010
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Should Republicans re-think their rush to prevent federal health care reform provisions from being implemented in Wisconsin?

Both GOP gubernatorial candidates oppose the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed into law on March 23. On Monday, candidate Mark Neumann even delivered more than 25,000 petitions asking Gov. Jim Doyle to block federal reform in the state. Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he would try to block it under the next governor after failing to get Doyle’s approval to do so earlier this year. And U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson said his main goal is to repeal the bill.

But is that wise?

After all, many critical health care reform provisions will kick in before voters head to the polls in November. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, reforms that will begin on Sept. 23 include:

  • Tax credits will be provided to small businesses that provide health insurance for employees
  • Qualified Medicare recipients can receive a $250 rebate to help close the Part D donut hole
  • Adult children can stay on their parents’ insurance policy until they turn 26
  • Insurers will be prohibited from creating lifetime limits on coverage
  • Insurers will be prohibited from dropping policyholders when they get sick
  • Insurers will be prohibited from denying coverage to kids under 19 who have pre-existing conditions

In addition, one more reform will begin on June 21, when those with pre-existing conditions can join a temporary high-risk pool to access health insurance coverage.

Do Scott Walker, Neumann, Van Hollen and Johnson really want to roll back these reforms after Wisconsin residents begin benefiting from them?

One-in-Four Wisconsinites Has a Pre-existing Condition

The impact of these protections and those to come will have a widespread impact on Wisconsin.

Take denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions, which will be banned outright in 2014.

According to a new study by Families USA, 1.1 million Wisconsin residents under the age of 65 have a pre-existing condition—cancer or diabetes or even allergies, for example—that could cause them to be denied health care coverage or charged higher rates if the heath insurance industry is left to its own devices.

“The number of people who are affected is pretty astounding,” said Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “It tells you why so many people are upset about the health insurance industry’s business model.”

Not surprisingly, the impact is felt most acutely by baby boomers, aged 55 to 64, since 46% of them have a pre-existing condition.

  But these numbers are a conservative estimate, since Families USA identified only those with a diagnosed pre-existing condition. There may be many more people with an undiagnosed condition that could lead them to be dropped from coverage. These individuals are more likely to be ethnic or racial minorities, since they are more likely to not have health insurance coverage that gives them access to quality health care.

In a conference call with reporters, U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) praised the health care reform bill, saying it “ends some of the most ludicrous practices of the insurance industry,” such as defining domestic violence as a pre-existing condition and providing insurance coverage only to the healthiest consumers.

U.S. Congressman Steve Kagen of Appleton said he considers the health care reform package to be an important affirmation of civil rights for all individuals.

“It’s a civil right that no longer will a health insurance company be allowed to discriminate against any citizen just because of how they were born or because they may become ill through no fault of their own,” Kagen told reporters. “This is a great victory for all citizens. If you’re a citizen you’re now in and we have to hold on to this new right, this new freedom from discrimination.”


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