Seventy-five years ago, Majority Leader Joe T. Robinson helped enact Social Security to ensure our seniors could live with dignity. Thirty years later, Representative Wilbur Mills led the charge to create Medicare and Medicaid so seniors and the poor could receive necessary medical care. Today, President Obama has signed into law an equally historic piece of legislation, building on these programs' legacy of providing dignity, stability and care to Americans.
This health care reform law lays a solid foundation for more affordable, reliable and accessible health care. While 32 million Americans will gain health insurance, millions more will benefit from tax credits, more competition in the insurance marketplace, and meaningful steps to reduce the deficit. In addition, we all win with protections against abusive health insurance practices. Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to impose caps on lifetime coverage, drop insurance coverage because of an illness, or deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition. I am proud to be part of this monumental effort.
Effective Dates of Major Provisions of the Health Care Law:
* Bars insurers from denying coverage to children who have preexisting conditions (covers all people in 2014).
* Bars insurers from imposing lifetime caps on coverage.
* Stops insurers from dropping insurance when claims are filed.
* Offers small business employers tax credits of up to 35% of their employees' premiums depending on size of firm and annual wages. When exchanges are operational in 2014, credits will increase to 50 percent of premiums.
* Provides access to high-risk pools for people who have preexisting conditions.
* Requires insurers to allow young adults to stay on their parents' plan until age 26.
* Eliminates co-pays and deductibles for preventive care.
* Assists States in establishing offices for consumer assistance to help individuals with filing complaints, appeals and tax credit eligibility.
* Provides funds to build new and expand existing community health centers.
* Requires individual and small group market insurance plans to spend 80% of premium dollars on medical services, not CEO pay or administrative costs. Large group plans would have to spend at least 85%.
* Establishes health insurance exchanges to allow individuals and small businesses to comparison shop, creating a competitive insurance marketplace.
* Creates multi-state, private plans, similar to those offered to Member of Congress
* Provides assistance for families earning up to 400 percent of the poverty level -- or about $88,000 a year -- to purchase health insurance.
* Requires employers with 50 or more employees to contribute to the cost of providing coverage.
* Requires people who can afford it to be personally accountable for purchasing their own health care coverage. This requirement eliminates the $1,000 a year "hidden tax" that every insured Arkansas family has to pay for those who do not have insurance.