Senate HCR Bill Moves Forward Over Weekend

senate-shieldLate Saturday night, the US Senate voted to allow debate over their draft of healthcare reform legislation to begin on the floor.  This is another big hurdle that proponents of reform have overcome.  The Senate version of the bill still contains some version of a public option.  It will be interesting to see what amendments are added during the committee process.  For supporters of reform who may be feeling that the reform has been too compromised and watered down, follow me over the fold for a great breakdown of what the current draft of the Senate bill includes for all Americans. Hat tip to blogger BlackWaterDog from for generating the list I quote below:
“1.  BEGINS TO CLOSE THE MEDICARE PART D DONUT HOLE – Reduces the donut hole by $500 and institutes a 50% discount on brand-name drugs, effective January 1. 2010. 2. IMMEDIATE HELP FOR THE UNINSURED UNTIL EXCHANGE IS AVAILABLE (INTERIM HIGH-RISK POLL) – Creates a temporary insurance program until the Exchange is available for individuals who have been uninsured for several months or have been denied a policy because of pre-existing conditions. 3. BANS LIFETIME LIMITS ON COVERAGE – Prohibits health insurance companies from placing lifetime caps on coverage. 4.  ENDS RESCISSIONS – Prohibits insurers from nullifying or rescinding a patient’s policy when they file a claim for benefits, except in the case of fraud. 5.  EXTENDS COVERAGE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE UP TO 27TH BIRTHDAY THROUGH PARENT’S INSURANCE – Requires health plans to allow young people through age 26 to remain in their parents’ insurance policy, at the parents’ choice. 6.  ELIMINATES COST-SHARING FOR PREVENTATIVE SERVICES IN MEDICARE – Eliminates co-payments for preventative services and exempts preventative services from deductibles from the Medicare program. 7.  IMPROVES HELP FOR LOW-INCOME MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES – Improves the low-income protection programs in Medicare to assure more individuals are able to access this vital help. 8.  PROVIDES NEW CONSUMER PROTECTIONS IN MEDICARE ADVANTAGE – Prohibits Medicare Advantage plans from charging enrollees higher cost-sharing for services in their private plan than what is charged in traditional Medicare. 9. IMMEDIATE SUNSHINE ON PRICE GOUGING – Discourages excessive price increases by insurance companies through review and disclosure of insurance rate increases. 10. CONTINUITY FOR DISPLACED WORKERS – Allows Americans to keep their COBRA coverage until the Exchange is in place and they can access affordable coverage. 11.  CREATES NEW, VOLUNTARY, PUBLIC LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE PROGRAM – Creates a long-term care insurance program to be financed by voluntary payroll deductions to provide benefits to adults who become functionally disabled. 12.   HELP FOR EARLY RETIREES – Creates a $10 billion fund to finance a temporary reinsurance program to help offset the costs of expensive health claims for employers that provide health benefits for retirees age 55-64. 13.  COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS – Increases funding for Community Health Centers to allow for a doubling of the number of patients seen by the centers over the next 5 years. 14.  INCREASING NUMBER OF PRIMARY CARE DOCTORS – Provides new investment in training programs to increase the number of primary doctors, nurses, and public health professionals.”

Also included in the Senate version is language that would require all Congress to give up their current taxpayer subsidized health insurance plans and participate in the same exchanges that this legislation creates for all Americans.  That really ought to ensure that our elected representatives make sure the deal is a good one.  They’ll be forced to use it too!

What are your thoughts about the legislation as it stands?  Do you think the President will get  a bill to sign before Auld Lang Syne?  SOund off in the comments below.

One Response to “Senate HCR Bill Moves Forward Over Weekend”

  1. Sometimes these decisions seem so far removed and the actual impact of the bill on me personally is kind of obscure. I usually think of the bill in terms of me or family as patients – but what about me as a medical professional? Looking at the blog’s sub-heading “Exploring Opportunities in the World of Medical Billing and Coding” makes me think of how all these new regulations will affect the billing and coding world. Will there be additional courses I have to take to get up to speed? Also, increased funding for health centers and primary care doctors means more jobs for MAs, right? I guess we’ll have to see what happens…

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