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Think Out Loud

Rx: The Final Health Care Bill

Pete Springer/OPB

Over the past year we’ve discussed many aspects of possible healthcare legislation on Think Out Loud, from the role of employers in providing health insurance to the region’s low Medicare reimbursement rates. We’ve explored health promotion, doctors’ salaries, and personal healthcare values.

All that while the country debated the future of healthcare in this country. Now that’s coming to an end. On Sunday night Congress passed a major overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system. President Obama is expected to sign it into law on Tuesday. The Senate will take up some of the revisions probably this week.

Oregon’s four Democratic representatives voted yes on the bill. Republican Greg Walden voted no. Congressman Peter DeFazio had a particular hand in getting an adjustment in Medicare reimbursement rates that’s kept them particularly low in Oregon. After the vote he told OPB reporter, Rob Manning:

When the administration knew we were serious, and they could lose the whole bill, we negotiated around the clock, and we got something that is justifiable, that’s been studied time and time and time again by experts and panels and commissions saying this system is not fair, it’s not equitable, it doesn’t work. And it penalizes the states that are doing a better job, and rewards states that are doing a worse job, and it’s costing the taxpayers money.

This bill will provide coverage for as many as 32 million people who are currently uninsured at a cost of $940 billion. People with insurance coverage currently may not see any major changes, but they may be affected by some of these things in as soon as six months time:

  • insurance companies will be prohibited from placing lifetime limits on medical coverage
  • insurance companies will no longer be able to cancel policies of people who are sick
  • children will be considered as dependents until age 26 instead of the current age of 18 or 19 (depending on the state you live in)
  • children with pre-existing conditions will not be denied coverage
  • adults with pre-existing conditions will be eligible for subsidized coverage

And by 2014 there would be even more changes including, among other things, fines for employers with more than 50 employees who do not provide health insurance

What do you think of this overhaul to the healthcare system? Which change will affect you the most?  How might it change the healthcare you receive?


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