Congressman Sarbanes is a strong supporter of reforming our health care system, and he has introduced and supported several bills that will expand affordable health coverage and improve the quality of care for Americans. He supports the health care reform law because he believes it is a crucial step in our effort to reduce the cost of health care for families and small businesses, as well as provide access for those who currently do not have insurance. The law is bringing tremendous relief to millions of small business owners and employees across the country by making it possible for them to access health care coverage at affordable group rates and benefit from targeted tax credits.
The health insurance reform legislation marked a new direction for the country -- away from the influence of powerful special interests and towards common sense solutions for America's families. Congressman Sarbanes will continue to fight against any legislation to repeal the health care law.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590) passed the House of Representatives and was signed into law in March of 2010. HR 3590 is estimated to cut the deficit by $143 billion in the first 10 years and by $1.2 trillion in the subsequent decade. Congressman Sarbanes believes that, on its merits, it is a good law that addresses the accumulated frustrations of millions of Americans. It is a measured approach that will preserve what works in the current system and fix what does not. Just a few of the benefits and highlights are below.
*Lower Costs for Seniors: Seniors now receive free preventive services under Medicare with no co-payments or deductibles. The cost of prescription drugs are being lowered by gradually closing the dreaded "donut hole" in the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan and instituting discounts on brand name drugs. The solvency of the Medicare program is extended until 2029 by cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse.
*Coverage for Young Adults: Young adults are now eligible to remain on their parent's plan until their 26th birthday unless they are offered coverage at work.
*Ban on Discrimination Due to Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies are now prohibited from denying or restricting coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. In 2014, insurance companies will be prohibited from denying coverage for any adult with pre-existing conditions.
*Lower Out of Pocket Costs: The bill will cap annual out-of-pocket expenses and do away with lifetime limits on how much insurance companies will pay to cover. New insurance plans are also required to cover recommended preventive care with no out-of-pocket costs for services such as mammograms, colonoscopies, flu shots, pre-natal and new baby care.
*Help for Small Businesses: Tax credits are available for small businesses to help provide health coverage to their employees. In 2014, small businesses and uninsured individuals will be able to participate in state-based health care exchanges where they will have the option to choose from private plans, thereby benefiting from access to the kind of group rates that are now available only to large employers.
Health Care Workforce:
One of Congressman Sarbanes' top priorities during the debate on health care reform was to address workforce shortages, particular those for primary care physicians. He worked to include several provisions in the new law that will help to alleviate some of these shortages: additional scholarships and loan repayment programs for primary care providers in health shortage areas, strengthened grant programs for primary care training, a 10 percent bonus under Medicare for primary care services, and redistribution of unused residency slots to medical programs that train more primary care physicians and general surgeons. The law also establishes a new advisory commission that will help align our health care workforce with the needs of the greater population -- now and into the future. He will continue his work on these issues as Congress and the Administration implement health care reform to ensure that every American has access to quality care.