Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More Snow? Edition

Yup, there's snow and sleet and all kinds of nasty stuff outside. So what's up with health news today? Here goes:

Today starts health reform repeal debate. Polls show opposition to the law is softening as it begins to take effect and people realize what's really in it. However, there's no clear plan to replace the bill, which means repeal would leave us back to where we were a year ago. As always, I strongly encourage you to check the facts before jumping to conclusions. Read about the myths and the facts about health reform. Learn. Think. Then decide.

What will happen is this. The House will debate today and vote this evening to repeal. Tomorrow, they will vote to assign committees to come up with alternatives. None of this will actually get passed in the Senate and signed by the President, although we're all open to tweaking the law and making it better.

Democrats, too, will be out there with their own message about the positive things the law has done already. Indeed, Dems will use the repeal debate to remind the American people of the benefits of the new law:

  • No pre-existing condition exclusions for kids under 19;
  • Kids up to 26 can stay on their parents' policies;
  • There are pre-existing condition insurance plans for people who couldn't get insurance before due to pre-existing conditions;
  • Preventive care is free;
  • Insurers must spend 80 or 85 percent of premium dollars on health care, not on administrative costs;
  • There are new appeal rules that let people get outside reviews of insurers' denials of coverage;
  • Lifetime caps are eliminated and annual caps are being phased out;
  • Insurers no longer can retroactively rescind your policy;
  • And more.

Are you ready to give that up with no idea what you get in return? I didn't think so.

Well, expect this battle to go on over the next two years, as the GOP chips away at reform while more of the reform provisions take effect -- and you see how much you benefit from them.

In this context, consider the fact that half of all Americans under age 65 have pre-existing conditions. So if we're going to undo reform, what are we going to do to ensure that everybody who wants and needs insurance can get it at an affordable price? If the GOP has a good idea, I'd love to hear it.

Meanwhile, over 100 law professors have signed on to help support the constitutionality of healt reform. And a group of former members of Congress are launching a state-based reform effort.

In other news:

Mental health first aid courses -- in the wake of the Tucson shooting, attempts to teach people what to do if someone is becoming unhinged seems like a good idea.

Plan to have enough medicine with you when you travel or you may be caught short-handed with no recourse.

And that's this morning's news. I hope you aren't seeing outside your window what I'm seeing -- YUK! Jennifer

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