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New "Patient's Bill of Rights" Takes Effect

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Commonsense protections give doctors and consumers power to make decisions, not health insurance companies

Congressman Tom Perriello today highlighted a slate of key patient rights and protections that will now benefit Virginians on private insurance plans. This new "Patient's Bill of Rights" includes common-sense reforms that put patients and doctors, not the health insurance companies, back in charge of health care decisions. The reforms are included in the recently enacted health care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"The Patient's Bill of Rights ends the most abusive tactics of health insurance companies and puts patients and doctors back in the driver's seat. These reforms mean that if consumers play by the rules their insurance cannot kick them off, cap their benefits, or deny care to a child because of a pre-existing condition," said Rep. Perriello. "I'm proud to have fought for consumers and for putting fairness and decency ahead of the special interests."

As of September 23, 2010, all privately-insured consumers will have the following protections:

* Children cannot be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition, with protection expanding to all consumers in 2014;
* Health coverage cannot be arbitrarily cancelled if you become sick;
* Children up to age 26 can stay on their parents' health plan, which is especially important given the tight job market for young people;
* Health plans cannot put a lifetime limit on your health coverage;
* Health plans' annual limits on benefits will be eliminated through a three year phase out.

As of September 23, 2010, all NEW plans will have the following additional protections:

* The right to key preventive services without deductible or co-payments, including mammograms, colonoscopies, immunizations, and pre-natal care;
* The right to both an internal and external appeal;
* The right to choose your own doctor;
* The right to access to out-of-network emergency room care at in-network cost-sharing rates.

All of these provisions take effect for the next plan year starting on or after September 23, meaning they will be in effect following providers' next open enrollment for employer plans or when consumers re-enroll in or purchase a new policy.

In addition to these new protections, health care reform is providing other tangible benefits for patients, seniors, and small businesses in Central and Southside Virginia. Approximately 15,000 small businesses in the 5th district are currently eligible for tax credits of up to 35% of their health care costs.

In 2009, approximately 91,500 Medicare recipients in Virginia fell into Medicare prescription drug donut hole and were forced to pay prescription costs out of pocket. Over 18,000 Virginians have already received rebate checks to help with out of pocket prescription expenses. Starting next year, seniors who fall into the coverage gap will get a 50% discount on name-brand prescription drugs and a 75% discount on generics beginning in 2011. The rebate checks and discounts for seniors in the coverage gap are part of the health care reform bill's plan to completely eliminate the "doughnut hole" by 2020. Reform has also extended the solvency of Medicaid by 12 years to 2029.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the non-partisan score keeper often cited by both parties, the health care reform bill will reduce the budget deficit by $130 billion over the next decade, and $1.2 trillion over the second decade.

Rep. Perriello discussed the new protections at events on Wednesday, September 22 in Ferrum and Charlottesville, Virginia. At the events, he was joined by families who will benefit from these new protections, as well as medical professionals.

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