Today, Chris Van Hollen (MD-8), Assistant to the Speaker, and Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) applauded improvements to the health care reform legislation pending in Congress. Key revisions include protections for small businesses, immediately beginning to close the Medicare prescription drug "donut hole," and measures to increase competition, such as a provision to allow the creation of state health insurance compacts. The changes are the result of input Congressmen Himes and his colleagues gathered from their constituents and health experts throughout the course of the summer and fall. Congressman Himes held over 50 events and met with nearly 3,000 constituents on his Health Care Listening Tour.
"The revised healthcare bill goes a long way to making healthcare affordable to Americans and their businesses, and to making sure more Americans can see doctors," said Congressman Himes. "Forbidding insurance companies from excluding people with pre-existing conditions and closing the Medicare donut hole alone will make a huge difference to people."
"The creation of state health insurance compacts is another element of our reform bill that has strong bipartisan support," said Congressman Van Hollen. "It will allow consumers to shop for insurance across state lines, promote competition and choice, and ensure strong consumer protections."
Improvements to Health Care Reform Legislation:
Begins closing the Medicare Part D "doughnut" hole immediately (January 1, 2010) by $500 and institutes a 50% discount for brand-name drugs, while closing the entire hole by 2019.
Requires the Secretary of HHS to negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries.
The CBO analysis has confirmed that the legislation's net coverage cost will be $894 billion over 10 years, fully paid for.
The CBO analysis has also confirmed that the legislation cuts the deficit by about $104 billion with the CLASS Act ($32 billion without the CLASS Act) in the first ten years (2010-2019) and reduces the deficit in the second ten years (2020-2029).
Provides for the research and inclusion of proven healthy behaviors in the essential benefits package and in community wellness programs
Establishes a new grants program to prevent obesity among children.
PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESS
Increases the threshold of small business exemption from $250,000 of payroll to $500,000; decreases obligations for employers with payrolls between $500,000 and $750,000.
Increases the size of small employers automatically allowed to purchase coverage through the Exchange to at least 100 employees within the first three years
Allows for the creation of State Health Insurance Compacts -- permitting states to enter into agreements to allow for the sale of insurance across state lines when the state legislatures agree.