Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Thompson reports on vote for 'historic health reform'

NORTH COAST – Lake County's congressman said Monday that the “historic” health care legislation he and 218 colleagues voted to pass on Sunday will have positive impacts for his North Coast district.

Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) said the legislation will benefit small businesses and individuals, is paid for and – according to the Congressional Budget Office – will reduce the deficit by $130 billion over 10 years, and $1.3 trillion over 20 years.

Approximately 212 members of Congress – including Republicans and 34 Democrats – reportedly voted against the legislation, and immediately began efforts to introduce bills to repeal it.

Thompson said the legislation will have many important benefits for people in the district.

He said it will immediately forbid insurance companies from dropping a person's coverage if they get sick, and give small businesses that provide coverage to their employees a tax credit of up to 35 percent of premiums.

Adults who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition will be able to buy affordable coverage, young people will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance until their 26th birthday and seniors on Medicare who are forced to pay out of pocket for their medications will get a rebate, Thompson said.

The bill will have a much broader impact once it’s fully implemented in 2014, according to Thompson.

In California’s First District alone, it will reportedly improve coverage for 395,000 residents who already have health insurance by prohibiting annual and lifetime limits on care, making sure insurance companies can’t drop people from coverage if they get sick, ban coverage denials for pre-existing conditions, and reduce the cost of preventive care.

He said that, to rein in soaring insurance costs, the reforms also limit the amount insurance companies can spend on administrative expenses, profits, and other overhead.

The bill will also:

  • Give tax credits up to 163,000 families and 15,700 small businesses to help them afford coverage in the First District.

  • Extend coverage to 63,500 uninsured residents in the district.

  • Guarantee that 13,100 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.

  • Protect 800 district families from bankruptcy by capping total health care expenditures.

  • Allow 69,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents’ insurance plans.

  • Provide millions of dollars in new funding for 74 of our community health centers.

  • Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and other health care providers by $67 million annually in the First District.

The bill will also make significant improvements to seniors’ health care, Thompson said.

Seniors will have access to free preventive and wellness care, improved primary and coordinated care, and enhanced nursing home care. He said the bill also closes the “donut hole,” which forces 10,300 seniors in the district each year to cover the full cost of their medications.

It also increases new training programs to ensure that we have a greater number of primary care doctors, nurses and public health professionals, and incentivizes doctors to provide primary care in underserved areas, to increase access for rural areas, according to Thompson.

The bill is supported by California Medical Association, California Hospital Association and AARP.

What's your take on the health care legislation? Weigh in below in our comments section.

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