Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today marked the one-year anniversary of the enactment of The Affordable Care Act. The health reform law provides Nevadans with guaranteed access to affordable medical coverage and gives assistance to small businesses that provide insurance to their workers. Berkley will join supporters of The Affordable Care Act at an event in Las Vegas later today where she will discuss how the law is helping seniors, parents, students and Americans from all walks of life who share the need for health care coverage at an affordable price.
"For the 1.6 million Nevadans with coverage, this law strengthens patient protections by stopping insurers from dropping those who get sick, ending lifetime coverage caps and eliminating pre-existing conditions. Small businesses are receiving tax credits under The Affordable Care Act for providing workers with health coverage and the State of Nevada has received $20 million in funding to provide insurance to early retirees and to strengthen public health and disease prevention efforts," Berkley said. "And parents can now keep children on their policies until age 26, a change that will help more than 11,000 Nevadans maintain their health coverage at an affordable price."
Berkley also praised provisions in the law that are helping Nevadans caught in the Medicare drug benefit "donut hole" and that provide free preventive care for older Americans.
"Seniors in Nevada and across the nation are enjoying better benefits, better medical coverage and increased assistance with the 'donut hole' through The Affordable Care Act," said Berkley. "This includes free preventive care which saves lives through early detection of cancer and other diseases. That means 300,000 Nevadans can now receive free mammograms, colonoscopies and other preventive services as well as a free annual wellness visit with their doctor. Early detection and prevention not only protect the health of patients, they also reduce the cost of care, especially emergency room visits and treatments for illnesses in advanced stages. The health reform law also provided 25,000 Nevadans who reached the 'donut hole' in their Medicare drug coverage with a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate check. In addition, these Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for hundreds of dollars in savings on their medicines as a result of the 50-percent discount on covered brand-name drugs that we created under The Affordable Care Act," said Berkley.
The Affordable Care Act is already helping Nevadans by:
Covering Children with Pre-Existing Conditions
Most insurance companies are now banned from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition. An estimated 162,000 kids with a pre-existing condition in Nevada will be protected because of this provision. In 2014, insurers are banned from discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition.
Removing Lifetime Limits on Health Benefits
The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits -- freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014. This will protect 1.6 million Nevada residents with private insurance coverage from these limits.
Making it Illegal for an Insurance Company to Drop Coverage When You Get Sick
The law bans insurance companies from dropping coverage when an individual gets sick because of simple mistake on an application. This will protect 110,000 Nevada residents who buy coverage on the individual market from losing their coverage when they need it the most.
Providing New Coverage Options for Young Adults
Insurance companies are now required to allow parents to keep their children up to age 26 without job-based coverage on their insurance plans. An estimated 11,200 young adults in Nevada could gain insurance coverage as a result of the law.
Providing New Benefits and Lowering Costs for Medicare Beneficiaries
Nearly all 44 million beneficiaries who have Medicare, including 314,000 in Nevada, can now receive free preventive services -- like mammograms and colonoscopies -- as well as a free annual wellness visit with their doctor. Also, more than 24,797 Nevada residents who hit the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the "donut hole" received $250 tax-free rebates, and will receive a 50% discount on brand name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole this year. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole completely. Taken together, the changes in the law will save seniors enrolled in traditional Medicare more than $3,500 over the next 10 years.
Lowering Taxes for Small Businesses
The law provides $40 billion of tax credits to up to 4 million small businesses, including up to 30,345 in Nevada to help offset the costs of purchasing coverage for their employees and makes premiums more affordable.
Increasing the Value of Health Insurance
Under the law, insurance companies must provide consumers greater value by spending at least 80% of premium dollars on health care and quality improvements instead of overhead, executive salaries or marketing. If they don't, they must provide consumers a rebate or reduce premiums. This means that 1.6 million Nevada residents with private insurance coverage will receive greater value for their premium dollars.
Scrutinizing Unreasonable Premium Increases
New rules in the law require insurers to publicly justify unreasonable premium increases, and strengthen States' abilities to crack down on premium hikes.
Providing Greater Resources for Nevada
The law gives Governors millions of dollars in Federal support for their work to hold down insurance premiums, build competitive insurance marketplaces, provide insurance to early retirees, and strengthen their public health and prevention efforts. So far, Nevada has received $19.3 million from the Affordable Care Act. Grants to Nevada include:
* $297,800 to support a consumer assistance program
* $1 million to plan for a Health Insurance Exchange
* $1 million to crack down on unreasonable insurance premium increases
* $5.3 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund
* $3.1 million in Therapeutic Discovery Project Program Tax Credits and Grants
* $203,541 for Medicare improvements for patients and providers
* $1 million for Maternal, Infant and Childhood Home Visiting
* $7.3 million for the Money Follows the Person demonstration project
Lowering Early Retiree Coverage Costs
An estimated 38,600 people from Nevada retired before they were eligible for Medicare and have health coverage through their former employers. Unfortunately, the number of firms that provide health coverage to their retirees has decreased over time. But thanks to the creation of the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program in the Affordable Care Act, 24 employers in Nevada have been approved to receive support to firms that continue to provide health coverage to their early retirees--lowering their total health care costs.
Creating New Coverage Options for Individuals with Pre-Existing Conditions
Residents of Nevada who have been locked out of the coverage system because of a pre-existing condition are now eligible for coverage through a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan that was created under the law. To learn more about the plan available in Nevada go here: https://www.pcip.gov/StatePlans.html.
Increasing Support for Community Health Centers
The Affordable Care Act increases the funding available to the more than 1,100 community health centers in all 50 States, including the 33 existing Community Health Centers in Nevada in rural communities and inner cities, enabling them to double the number of patients they serve from 19 million to nearly 40 million by 2015. This builds on a $2 billion investment in Community Health Centers in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which has provided an unprecedented opportunity to serve more patients, create new jobs, and meet the significant increase in demand for primary health care services.
Reducing the Health Care Workforce Shortage
Nearly 13% of Nevada residents live in an underserved area. The law includes new resources to boost the number of doctors, nurses and health care providers in communities where they are needed most. These resources include grants, scholarships, loan repayment programs, as well as increased support for educational institutions that provide training for a range of health care careers.