Norton Explains How New Law Affects DC Residents
||Sunday, March 28, 2010
WASHINGTON, DC - Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) released official figures on the health care bill's benefits by demographic groups in the District of Columbia, and said that if the District of Columbia had a vote on the final passage of the legislation, she would have cast a critical "aye", helping to ease the search to the end for enough votes for the historic bill that is expected to pass in the House today.
"The D.C. Voting Rights Act, like most bills this year, has been in line behind health care reform," Norton said. "However, the most important point of contribution to a bill is usually not when the work is done, and all that needs to be done is to register your vote for the majority. The most critical point in legislation is when it is being crafted in order to ensure that your constituents benefit.
I feel that the many hours I have put into the health care bill have been more than worth it," Norton said. Norton cited an atypical benefit for D.C. and benefits for D.C. residents. Beyond the many benefits for Americans in the bill, she said, D.C. will be relieved of the $50 million it has generously used to fund its D.C. Health Alliance for people who do not qualify for Medicaid, but cannot afford health insurance, a cost seldom picked up by the states. Norton summarized the figures of who could benefit in D.C. and how:
+ For the 62% of D.C. residents who already have private health insurance, but are facing soaring insurance costs and could be dropped at the whim of an insurance company, the bill will reign in insurance costs by restricting administrative expenses, profits, and overhead; prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions; prohibit annual and lifetime benefit caps; and prohibit insurance companies from dropping coverage when a person becomes sick.
+ For the 134,000 uninsured families and 17,300 small businesses, the bill will provide tax credits to buy affordable insurance at group rates through the new health insurance exchanges that will be established, or for individuals with incomes below 133 % of the poverty line, through expansion of Medicaid.
+ For the 75,000 seniors receiving Medicare, the bill will add free preventative and wellness care, improve primary, coordinated, and nursing home care, and provide a $250 rebate this year and 50 percent discounts on brand name drugs beginning next year to the 3,300 seniors who have fallen through the donut hole and are forced to pay the full cost of prescription drugs, while closing the hole within 10 years.
+ For 67,000 young adults in the District, the bill will allow them to stay on their parents' plan until age 26 and allow them to purchase affordable policies until age 30.
+ For the 5,600 D.C. individuals with pre-existing conditions, the bill will ensure they are not denied affordable coverage.
+ Families who purchase insurance through the health insurance exchange or are insured by small businesses will no longer face bankruptcy due to health care costs not covered by insurance, because the bill will cap out-of-pocket costs at $6,200 for individuals and $12,400 for families.
For District of Columbia health care providers, the bill will provide up to $54.6 million to 42 community health centers, and will reduce the burden on uncompensated care by $69 million at the District's hospitals and other health care facilities.
Norton also directed constituents to benefits that will be available to residents as soon as the bill is signed. For individuals, she said, there will be coverage for early retirees, 55-64; coverage for young adults up to age 26 on parents' policies; preventative care for those receiving Medicare and for others, now under private plans; first steps to close the donut hole in terms of the high risk pool, coverage for residents with pre-existing conditions; and tax credits for small business employees.
For many residents, the elimination of abuses will be the most important parts of the bill, including no more cancellation of policies when residents get sick; no discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions; no lifetime coverage limits; no annual limits on new plans; and requiring 80% of premiums for individuals and small groups, and 85% of large plan premiums, to be spent on the insured.
Other critical provisions that will benefit many D.C. residents are the funds to double the number of patients the city's 42 community health centers can accommodate, and funding for training more primary care doctors.