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New Report: Majority of Nevadans Would Lose Protections, Guaranteed Access to Coverage If Health Reform Repealed

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today highlighted findings from a new report detailing the health reform protections for Nevada families that will be lost if the Patients' Rights Repeal Act is passed. The report, Impact of Repealing the Health Care Reform Law In the Las Vegas Metro Area, was compiled by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Minority Staff and details how southern Nevada residents will be affected if the current health reform law is eliminated. Those findings can be found on my website here: .

"Nevadans have seen their coverage strengthened as a result of the Affordable Care Act and it's critical for families in the Silver State that these important safeguards remain in place and that insurers are kept in check. We have already eliminated the ability for insurers to drop patients when they get sick, ended lifetime coverage caps and enhanced protections for kids with pre-existing conditions, all of which will be taken away if this repeal is not stopped," said Berkley. "The result of any repeal would be fewer protections for the 1.6 million Nevadans who have coverage now, less preventive care for more than 330,000 local seniors and an increase in the number of uninsured residents calling our community and our state home."

The new report, which focuses on the population of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Area, shows repealing the Health Care Reform Law would:

* Allow insurance companies to deny coverage to up to 1.2 million individuals, including up to 160,000 children, with pre-existing conditions.

* Rescind consumer protections for 1.6 million individuals who have health insurance through their employer or the market for private insurance.

* Eliminate health care tax credits for up to 52,900 small businesses and 597,000 families.

* Increase prescription drug costs for 32,800 seniors who hit the Part D drug "donut hole" and deny new preventive care benefits to 333,000 seniors.

* Increase the costs of early retiree coverage for up to 38,600 early retirees.

* Eliminate new health care coverage options for 9,400 uninsured young adults.

* Increase the number of people without health insurance by 361,000 individuals.

* Increase the costs to hospitals of providing uncompensated care by $166 million annually.

On Monday of last week, Berkley invited a group of Nevadans to her Las Vegas office to share their personal stories about how the health reform law has helped them with affordable coverage. Included in the group were Marla Turner, whose pre-existing conditions resulted in a 2004 medical bankruptcy, Jazelle Scott, who has juvenile diabetes and her mother Adonia, and Michael Braun -- also with juvenile diabetes -- and his mother Rosann. Joining them were local student Ashley Thomas, who described how the new law enabled her to stay on her parents' insurance plan after graduating college, and local small business owner Ron Nelsen of Pioneer Overhead Door, who supports keeping The Affordable Care Act in place.

"Last week in Las Vegas, I heard personally from Nevadans who have benefited from the insurance reforms and added access to care that the new law has created. These men and women, including parents with children who have juvenile diabetes, shared their personal stories and urged Congress to reject legislation that would repeal the progress we have made on helping families and small businesses with coverage," said Berkley. "Under The Affordable Care Act families no longer have to worry about losing coverage for a child with diabetes, seniors are saving on prescription drugs and receiving free preventive care through Medicare and small businesses are receiving billions of dollars in tax credits to provide coverage for their employees. These stories are representative of how current law is helping Nevadans with access to affordable guaranteed health coverage and how the loss of these protections would leave our neighbors, co-workers and loved ones vulnerable once again," said Berkley.

Additional Report Findings:

Repeal would eliminate the ban on discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions. Under the health reform law, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions and will be banned from discriminating against adults with pre-existing conditions in 2014. There are up to 1.2 million residents in the Las Vegas metropolitan area with pre-existing conditions like diabetes or cancer, including up to 160,000 children. Repeal would allow insurance companies to refuse to insure these individuals if they seek coverage in the individual or small-group markets.

Repeal would eliminate the ban on annual and lifetime limits. The health reform law prohibits insurance companies from imposing annual and lifetime limits on health insurance coverage. This provision protects the rights of everyone who receives coverage from their employer or through the market for private insurance. If this protection is repealed, insurers would be able to impose coverage limits on 1.6 million individuals in the region with employer or private coverage.

Repeal would eliminate the ban on rescissions. The health reform law prohibits insurers from rescinding coverage for individuals who become ill. Repeal would allow insurance companies to resume the practice of rescinding coverage for the 99,000 area residents who purchase individual health insurance.

Repeal would eliminate other consumer protections. The health reform law protects individuals from soaring insurance costs by requiring reviews of proposed rate increases and limiting the amount insurance companies can spend on administrative expenses, profits, and other overhead. Repeal would deny these new protections to tens of thousands of area residents who either buy their own insurance or receive coverage through employers who do not self-insure.

Repeal would eliminate the requirement that insurance companies provide free preventive care. The health reform law promotes wellness by requiring insurance companies to offer free preventive care as part of any new or revised policies they issue after September 23, 2010. Repeal would allow insurance companies to charge for these essential benefits, which would increase out-of-pocket costs for 333,000 residents in the metro area.

Repeal would eliminate health insurance options for young adults. The health reform law allows young adults to remain on their parents' insurance policies up to age 26. In the Las Vegas metropolitan area, 9,400 young adults have or are expected to take advantage of this benefit. Repeal would force these young adults to find other coverage or return to the ranks of the uninsured.

Repeal would eliminate tax credits for buying health insurance. Starting in 2014, the health reform law gives middle class families the largest tax cut for health care in history, providing tax credits to buy coverage for families with incomes up to $88,000 for a family of four. Repeal would deny these credits to 597,000 families in the region.

Repeal would increase drug costs for seniors. Beginning in 2011, the health reform law provides a 50% discount for prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries who enter the Medicare Part D "donut hole" and lose coverage for their drug expenses. The law then increases the discount to Medicare beneficiaries each year until 2020, when the donut hole is finally eliminated. There are 32,800 Medicare beneficiaries in the Las Vegas metropolitan area who are expected to benefit from these provisions. Repeal would increase the average cost of prescription drugs for these Medicare beneficiaries by over $500 in 2011 and by over $3,000 in 2020.

Repeal would deny seniors new preventive care and other benefits. The health reform law improves Medicare by providing free preventive and wellness care, improving primary and coordinated care, and enhancing nursing home care. The law also strengthens the Medicare trust fund, extending its solvency from 2017 to 2029. Repeal would eliminate these benefits for 333,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the region and cause the Medicare trust fund to become insolvent in just six years.

Repeal would eliminate tax credits for small businesses. The health reform law provides tax credits to small businesses worth up to 35% of the cost of providing health insurance. There are up to 52,900 small businesses in the Las Vegas metropolitan area that are eligible for this tax credit. Repeal would force these small businesses to drop coverage or bear the full costs of coverage themselves.

Repeal would increase retiree health care costs for employers. The health reform law provides funding to encourage employers to continue to provide health insurance for their retirees. As many as 38,600 area residents who have retired but are not yet eligible for Medicare could ultimately benefit from this early retiree assistance. Repeal would increase costs for employers and jeopardize the coverage their retirees are receiving.
Repeal would increase the cost of uncompensated care borne by hospitals. The health reform law benefits hospitals by covering more Americans and thereby reducing the cost of providing care to the uninsured. Repeal would undo this benefit, increasing the cost of uncompensated care by $166 million annually for hospitals in the region.

This analysis is based upon the following sources: the U.S. Census (data on insurance coverage rates and types of coverage, small businesses, early retirees, income, and district populations); the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (data on Medicare enrollment and the Part D donut hole); the Department of Health and Human Services (data on uncompensated care, Early Retiree Reinsurance Program participation, and preexisting conditions); and the Congressional Budget Office (data on health insurance coverage and deficit reduction under the Affordable Care Act). This analysis includes information on all affected individuals in all congressional districts fully or partially in the Las Vegas metropolitan area.

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