When the president signs the fixes to the health care reform bill, many good things will go into effect this year.
1. Adult children may remain as dependents on their parents' policy until their 27th birthday.
2. Children under age 19 may not be excluded for pre-existing conditions.
3. No more lifetime caps on coverage.
4. Coverage for preventive care for all.
5. Adults with pre-existing conditions may buy into a national high-risk pool until the exchanges come online. While these will not be cheap, they're still better than total exclusion and get some benefit from a wider pool of insured consumers.
6. Small businesses will be entitled to a tax credit for 2009 and 2010, which could be as much as 50 percent of what they pay for employees' health insurance.
7. The "doughnut hole" will begin to close for Medicare patients, making prescription medications more affordable for seniors.
8. A requirement that all insurers must post their balance sheets on the Internet and fully disclose administrative costs, executive compensation packages and benefit payments.
9. Authorizes early funding of community health centers in all 50 states (Bernie Sanders' amendment). Community health centers provide primary, dental and vision services to people in the community, based on a sliding scale for payment according to ability to pay.
10. And no more rescissions. Effective immediately, you can't lose your insurance because you get sick.
The bill is paid for primarily by eliminating gross overpayments to the insurance industry for Medicare, eliminating fraud and abuse in the Medicare program and increased taxes on the top 5 percent (those making more than $250,000 a year).
The Republicans want to campaign on repealing these controls on the excesses of the insurance industry and consumer protections that are paid for in a fiscally sound manner (unlike the $700 billion Medicare drug program the Republicans simply added to the national debt). I say "bring it on." I think the American people are smart enough to recognize real reform when they see it.
Adams, Butler County