Today, Congressman John Salazar released the list of benefits that the historic Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010 will bring his district; Colorado's Third Congressional District. The bill passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 219 to 212. The statistics below were compiled by the U.S. Census (data on insurance rates, small businesses, and young adult population); the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (data on Medicare and Part D enrollment); the Department of Health and Human Services (data on health care-related bankruptcies, uncompensated care, and pre-existing conditions); the Health Resources and Services Administration (data on community health centers); and the Congressional Budget Office (estimates of the percentage of citizens with health insurance coverage under health care reform legislation).
In Congressman Salazar's district, Colorado's Third Congressional district, the health care reform bill will:
* Improve coverage for 362,000 residents with health insurance.
* Give tax credits and other assistance to up to 184,000 families and 24,400 small businesses to help them afford coverage.
* Improve Medicare for 106,000 beneficiaries, including closing the donut hole.
* Extend coverage to 105,500 uninsured residents.
* Guarantee that 18,600 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
* Protect 900 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
* Allow 57,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents' insurance plans.
* Provide millions of dollars in new funding for 35 community health centers.
* Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and other health care providers by $84 million annually.
On the passage of today' health care reform bill, Congressman Salazar offered the following statement:
"Because of today's vote our families and friends, our children and grandchildren won't have to suffer without health coverage or at the hands of a broken insurance system. Today marks the passing of a torch that was carried by Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt and Democrats like Bill Clinton. Now that torch lights the way for all Americans to enjoy a brighter, healthier future.
"The bill that passed today is one of the largest deficit reduction bills in the history of Congress, it will provide significant insurance reform, and it will expand coverage to 32 million Americans.
"When President Obama signs this bill it will immediately end discrimination for pre-existing medical conditions, it will prevent people from being dropped from coverage if they become sick, it will eliminate co-pays for preventive care, it will place yearly caps on what someone pays, and it will eliminate waste, fraud and overpayments to private insurance companies.
"This bill will keep thousands of Americans from dying each year due to lack of health coverage and will keep millions of Americans from going bankrupt because their insurance dropped them from getting sick.
"In my district, and in all of Rural America, finding a doctor who will take Medicare patients is becoming harder and harder. This bill will give all primary doctors in rural America a 10 percent increase in reimbursement to take Medicare patients.
"Under this bill, any American who has insurance will be able to keep their doctor and their plan. Any American who doesn't have insurance will be able to get insurance. For seniors, the bill strengthens Medicare by improving benefits in both the short and long term, making Medicare sustainable for years to come.
"Rising health care costs are stifling business growth, threatening the long term solvency of Medicare, and bankrupting American families. Failure to address these issues will cripple our economic stability for decades. This is important. Millions of Americans will now benefit from combined purchasing power on the exchange just like Members of Congress and federal employees.
"For years, I have been deeply involved with our nation's health care debate. During that time, I have visited with many of my constituents who have asked for significant health care reform. Today, the House of Representatives passed landmark health care reform legislation so that all Americans can have access to quality, affordable medical care and I'm proud to have been a part of it."
Affordable High-Quality Health Care for the Middle Class
Essential health insurance reforms. Approximately 53 percent of the district (362,000 residents) receives health care coverage from an employer or through policies purchased on the individual market. Under the legislation, individuals with insurance can keep the coverage they have now, and it will get better. The insurance reforms in the bill prohibit annual and lifetime limits, eliminate rescissions for individuals who become ill while insured, ban coverage denials for pre-existing conditions, and reduce the cost of preventive care. To rein in soaring insurance costs, the reforms also limit the amount insurance companies can spend on administrative expenses, profits, and other overhead.
Historic health care tax cuts. Those who do not receive health care coverage through their employer will be able to purchase coverage at group rates through the new health insurance exchange. To make this insurance affordable, the legislation contains the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history, providing middle class families with incomes up to $88,000 for a family of four with tax credits to help pay for coverage in the exchange. For a family of four making $50,000, the average tax credit will be approximately $5,800. There are 184,000 households in the district that could qualify for these credits if they purchase health insurance through the exchange or, in the case of households with incomes below 133 percent of poverty, receive coverage through Medicaid.
Coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions. There are 18,600 uninsured individuals in the district who have pre-existing medical conditions like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Under the bill's insurance reforms, they cannot be denied affordable coverage.
Financial security for families. There were 900 health care-related bankruptcies in the district in 2008, caused primarily by the health care costs not covered by insurance. The bill caps annual out-of-pocket costs at $6,200 for individuals and $12,400 for families who purchase insurance through the exchange or who are insured by small businesses. It also eliminates annual and lifetime limits on all insurance coverage. These reforms ensure that no family will have to face financial ruin because of high health care costs.
Security for Seniors
Improving Medicare. There are 106,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the district. The legislation improves their benefits by providing free preventive and wellness care, improving primary and coordinated care, and enhancing nursing home care. The bill also strengthens the Medicare Trust Fund, extending its solvency from 2017 to 2026.
Closing the Part D donut hole. Each year, 9,100 Medicare beneficiaries in the district enter the Part D donut hole and are forced to pay the full cost of their prescription drugs. Under the bill, these beneficiaries will receive a $250 rebate in 2010, 50 percent discounts on brand name drugs beginning in 2011, and complete closure of the donut hole within a decade. A typical beneficiary who enters the donut hole will see savings of over $700 in 2011 and over $3,000 by 2020.
New Coverage Options for Young Adults
New lower-cost health care options for young adults. The legislation will allow young adults to remain on their parents' policies until they turn 26. There are 57,000 young adults in the district who could benefit from this option. For individuals under age 30, the bill creates new, inexpensive policies that allow them to obtain protection from catastrophic health care costs.
Helping Small Businesses
Helping small businesses obtain health insurance. Under the legislation, small businesses with 100 employees or less will be able to join the health insurance exchange, benefiting from group rates and a greater choice of insurers. There are 25,200 small businesses in the district that could benefit from this provision.
Tax credits for small businesses. Small businesses with 25 employees or less and average wages of less than $50,000 will qualify for tax credits of up to 50 percent of the costs of providing health insurance. There are up to 24,400 small businesses in the district that could qualify for these credits.
Covering the Uninsured
Coverage of the uninsured. The legislation would extend coverage to 95 percent of all Americans. If this level of coverage is reached in the district, 105,500 residents who currently do not have health insurance will receive coverage.
Relieving the burden of uncompensated care. In 2008, health care providers in the district provided uncompensated care to individuals who lacked insurance coverage and were unable to pay their bills. Under the legislation, these costs of uncompensated care will be reduced by $84 million.
Supporting community health centers. There are 35 community health centers in the district that provide health care to the poor and medically underserved. Nationwide, the legislation would provide $11 billion in new funding for these centers. If the community health centers in the district receive the average level of support, the 35 centers will receive $45.5 million in new assistance.
No deficit spending. The cost of health care reform under the legislation is fully paid for, in large part by eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and excessive profits for private insurers. The legislation will reduce the deficit by over $100 billion over the next ten years and by about $1 trillion over the second decade.