Tomorrow, the House Republican Leadership is bringing the Patients’ Rights Repeal bill (HR 2) to a vote on the House floor. For America’s seniors, a vote to repeal is a vote to:
Increase drug costs for seniors, by taking away the 50% discount on brand-name drugs, which went into effect on January 1, 2011, for the millions of seniors who enter the Medicare Part D ‘donut hole’ and lose coverage of their drug expenses. Repeal also permanently re-opens the ‘donut hole,’ which reform completely closes by 2020. Repeal would increase the average cost of prescription drugs for these seniors by over $500 in 2011 and by over $3,000 in 2020.
Increase health care costs for seniors, by taking away the new right under Medicare to coverage of life-saving preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies with no deductible and no co-payments, as well as the right to a free annual wellness visit, all of which went into effect on January 1, 2011. Repeal of these new Medicare benefits will mean significant costs for many of America’s seniors and less use of these life-saving services.
Weaken the strength and solvency of Medicare. Repeal eliminates reforms that strengthen Medicare and extend the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by 12 years – from 2017 to 2029. These reforms strengthen solvency by squeezing waste out of the program and making it more efficient. Under repeal, the Medicare Trust Fund would become insolvent in just six years.
For America’s small businesses, a vote to repeal is a vote to:
Raise taxes on many small businesses, by eliminating tax credits available to small businesses that choose to offer health coverage to their employees. The tax credits cover up to 35% of the cost of the coverage (going to up to 50% in 2014). These tax credits went into effect in 2010. As a result, the percentage of employers with fewer than 10 employees that offer health coverage rose from 46% in 2009 to 59% in 2010. More than 4 million small firms are eligible for these credits. Repeal would force these small businesses to drop coverage or bear the full costs of coverage themselves.
Deny small businesses access to the same quality, affordable health plans only available to large firms today, by taking away access to new Health Insurance Exchanges, or competitive marketplaces, where beginning in 2014 small businesses and their employees will be able to purchase affordable coverage. Through the new Exchanges, small business owners and workers would be able to do one-stop comparison shopping for an affordable plan that offers: lower rates like what big businesses pay, stable pricing from year to year, and choice of quality plans for employees. Repeal means that small businesses must again haggle with insurers in a chaotic environment where they can be denied coverage or face skyrocketing premiums if a single worker gets seriously ill.
For America’s women, a vote to repeal is a vote to:
Allow insurance companies to continue “gender rating,” charging women substantially higher premiums than men for the same coverage. In 2008, 14.5 million American women purchased health insurance through the individual market. According to a recent study, the women on the individual market pay up to 48% more in premium costs than men – because of gender rating. Reform bans “gender rating,” beginning in 2014. Under repeal, women would continue to have to pay higher rates.
Allow insurance companies to continue denying women coverage or charging them higher rates because they are a breast cancer survivor, have been a victim of domestic violence, or have ever had a C-section. Insurance companies often have even treated being pregnant as a “pre-existing condition.” For example, more than 2.5 million American women are breast cancer survivors. Under repeal, health insurers could deny coverage to these women because of their pre-existing condition. Reform bans discrimination by insurers against those with “pre-existing conditions,” beginning in 2014. Under repeal, women would once again face discrimination.
Allow insurance companies to continue denying women adequate benefit packages. Many women have benefit packages that do not meet their needs. For example, 79% of women with individual market policies do not have any maternity coverage. Reform includes coverage of maternity services in the “essential benefits” package in the new Health Insurance Exchanges, beginning in 2014. Under repeal, many women would continue to have inadequate benefits.
For America’s young adults, a vote to repeal is a vote to:
Eliminate the ability of young adults with no coverage of their own to stay on their parents’ insurance plan up to their 26th birthday. Young adults represent the largest segment of the population without health insurance. Due to reform, more than 1.2 million young adults have already or are expected to take advantage of this benefit – going onto their parents’ plan. Under repeal, these young adults, many of whom recently graduated from school and are looking for employment in today’s challenging economy, would lose this coverage and instead be left to fend for themselves.
For America’s children, a vote to repeal is a vote to:
Eliminate the ban, which is now in effect, on insurance companies denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Up until the enactment of reform, thousands of children with a pre-existing condition were denied coverage by insurers each year. Research has shown that, compared to those with insurance, children who are uninsured are less likely to get critical preventive care including immunizations and well-baby checkups. That leaves them twice as likely to miss school and at much greater risk of hospitalization for avoidable conditions. There are as many as 19.4 million children in the U.S. living with a pre-existing condition. Repeal would empower insurance companies to once again deny these children coverage because of their pre-existing condition.
For Americans with pre-existing conditions, a vote to repeal is a vote to:
Once again continue allowing insurance companies to discriminate against Americans with pre-existing conditions. The Administration estimates that there are up to 129 million non-elderly Americans (i.e. up to 1 in 2 non-elderly Americans) with pre-existing medical conditions. The millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions include breast cancer survivors, prostate cancer survivors, and colon cancer survivors; the millions of Americans living with heart disease; and the millions of Americans with such conditions as asthma, high blood pressure, or arthritis. Reform bans insurance companies from discriminating against all Americans with pre-existing conditions beginning in 2014 – either charging higher rates or denying coverage. Repeal would allow insurance companies to refuse to insure these individuals if they seek coverage in the individual or small-group markets – impacting millions of Americans.