Health Law and Policy Update
Headlines of the week
President signs reconciliation bill
President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed the reconciliation bill passed last week by the House. With that, all the pieces of health reform are now law. The Kaiser Family Foundation issued a comprehensive summary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act including changes enacted with the reconciliation bill.
Sebelius clarifies children with pre-existing conditions will have immediate coverage
In a letter Monday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius addressed the new requirements guaranteeing coverage for children with pre-existing medical conditions. She insisted insurers should provide coverage starting this year. The president of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) said the industry will "fully comply" with regulations, expected within weeks.
Colorado well-positioned to implement reform
Colorado continues to position itself well for implementation of health reform. For example, federal health reform prohibits gender rating. Gov. Ritter signed House Bill 10-1008, which prohibits gender rating in Colorado's individual market, into law Monday. Other bills such as the All Payers Claims Database (House Bill 10-1330) and the plain language bill (House Bill 10-1166) are moving through the legislative process.
Advancing the debate
Countering assaults on health reform
Part of the Medicare prescription drug benefit legislation passed in 2003 allowed companies with retiree health plans to take a tax deduction for the free federal tax subsidy they receive for providing drug benefits for retirees. This is unusual; companies typically cannot deduct free federal subsidies. The health reform bill maintains the subsidies but repeals the provision that allows companies to deduct those subsidies.
White House officials defended the provision, saying it was a deliberate effort to eliminate an unusually generous tax loophole. The overall health care overhaul would save businesses more than $150 billion over the next decade by reducing health care inflation.
Health reform does reduce the budget deficit
Reform opponents continue to challenge the Congressional Budget Office projection that the federal deficit will be substantially reduced as a result of health reform. The Center on Budget Policy Priorities released a paper this week detailing why the CBO projections are correct.
How reform affects the states
A new report from the Center for American Progress discusses the positive effects of health reform on states.
What you can do
Celebrate the passage of health reform
It's very important to let members of Congress know you appreciate their vote on health reform. Please call or write them today. Don't know who your representatives are? Find out at Project Vote Smart.
Health Care Director
Health Care Attorney
Released March 31, 2010