Today, Congressman Tim Bishop announced important new health benefits for Americans that took effect on January 1 and highlighted the heavy costs New Yorkers would face under Republican plans to repeal the landmark health reform law.
Under health reform, as of January 1 all insurers are required to spend between 80-85 percent of the premiums they collect on health care and quality improvements for patients, not on administrative expenses or executive salaries. This provision will guarantee that insurers are selling quality policies that guarantee value for each premium dollar. Publicly run insurers Medicare and Medicaid pay approximately 95% of revenues back out in benefits.
Important new benefits under the law specifically for Medicare recipients effective January 1 include:
-Seniors now receive free preventive services such as annual checkups and certain preventative screenings.
-Seniors in the donut hole coverage gap for prescription drugs in Medicare Part D now receive a 50 percent discount when buying brand-name medications. Seniors will continue to receive additional discounts until the donut hole is closed in 2020.
-Primary care physicians and general surgeons now receive a 10 percent Medicare Bonus payment, which will protect the relationship between Medicare beneficiaries and their doctors and encourage new physicians to enter general and geriatric medicine.
"With the New Year, there are now new health care benefits for Long Islanders," Congressman Bishop said. "I want to work with my colleagues to strengthen and improve health care reform. But I have no interest in a reckless partisan assault that is all about politics and not policy."
The new Republican House majority is planning on forcing a vote on repeal next week without holding a single hearing or allowing any amendments. Congressman Bishop noted that one example of how Republicans have not thought through their attempt to repeal health care reform, is that repeal would require 8,500 seniors in the 1st Congressional District to pay back $250 to the IRS.
Last year, an estimated four millions seniors who were caught in the prescription drug coverage gap, or "donut hole" received a $250 rebate, including 8,500 in the 1st Congressional District. The Republicans' repeal legislation would cancel these rebates as if they never existed and force millions of seniors to repay the federal government for the money they have already received.
"I am stunned that anyone thinks it's a good idea to force seniors who are barely making ends meet and have not received a Social Security COLA in two years to now pay back $250 to the IRS," Congressman Bishop said. "Yet, this is exactly what my Republican colleagues will be voting to do."
The Department of Health and Human Services has released a report on the costs of repealing Health Reform specific to New York. Repeal would:
Eliminate Critical Consumer Protections
-77,800 young adults would lose their insurance coverage through their parents' health plans, some of them immediately as they finish school and look for a job. New York families would lose the peace of knowing that young adults can stay on their parents plan to age 26 if they do not have their own coverage.
-10 million New Yorkers with private insurance coverage would find themselves vulnerable again to having lifetime limits placed on their coverage.
-Insurance companies would be allowed to once again cut off coverage for customers who are in an accident or become sick, even if they just made a simple mistake on an application or paid their premium a few days late.
-Children with a pre-existing condition such as asthma or diabetes would once again be subject to denial of insurance coverage. Parents who purchased coverage for their previously-uninsurable children after the passage of health reform could be forced to repay insurance companies for medical services their children received.
-Women would be punished by the repeal of a requirement that new insurance plans cover recommended preventive services, like mammograms and flu shots, without cost sharing. Insurers would also no longer have to guarantee enrollees the right to choose any available primary care provider in the network or see an OB-GYN without a referral.
-New York State would not receive new resources to review proposed health insurance premium increases and hold insurance companies accountable for unfair premium hikes.
Roll Back Important Medicare Benefits
-192,596 Medicare beneficiaries would be forced to refund the one-time, tax-free $250 rebate to help pay for prescription drugs in the "donut hole" coverage gap in 2010. By perpetuating the Donut Hole, repeal would force Medicare beneficiaries to pay millions in additional costs for prescription drugs over the next decade.
-Nearly 2.9 million Medicare seniors in New York would be forced to pay a co-pay to receive important preventive services, like mammograms and colonoscopies. Medicare would no longer pay for an annual check-up visit, so seniors who want to protect their health with regular check-ups would have to pay extra.
Bishop added: "On top of all this, repeal would add $143 billion to the deficit over ten years and nearly a trillion over the next twenty according to the Congressional Budget Office. The American people know the cost of repeal is unaffordable: that's why they don't support it and neither do I. It's discouraging that the new majority has made it their top priority despite the desperate need to continue the Democrats' focus on job creation."
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