March 22, 2010

March 22, 2010
Health Care Reform

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Monday and I hope your week is off to a safe and great start. It is starting off a rainy and cloudy day but the weatherman is saying it should be beautiful by this afternoon.

I am very tired this morning since I stayed up late last night to see the result of the voting in Washington DC which I will talk about later in this blog entry. Chipper was also up and down all night so I got even less sleep than planned.

I had to be up at 10am this morning to get ready for another appointment with my surgeon. He is pleased with the way I am healing and took out my stitches today. I have to go back in another two weeks for him to check the healing process again. But all in all, he seemed pleased which was a relief to me since I can not tell myself.

But the big news of course is the health care reform vote last night. Tensions were running high and a few elected officials even degraded to hate and bigoted remarks. But the bill passed by a small margin.

Last night, we made history. Comprehensive health care reform has been the dream of presidents from FDR forward. Under President Obama, it will finally become reality.

Republican resistance has reached epic proportions. They have tried every last trick in the book and spent hundreds of millions to kill this bill. Now, they are running on repeal. They are coming after each Democrat who voted "yes." They seek to pick off some seats, dismantle reform and limit President Obama to a short, unfinished legacy.

Since the beginning of the health care reform debate, Dab the AIDS Bear has been fighting to protect guaranteed Medicare benefits; lower prescription drug costs for seniors; crack down on insurance company abuses; make sure you can continue to see your doctors, prevent anyone from coming between you and your doctor and give you and your loved ones more options to live independently at home as you age.

Although all the elements of health care reform that will benefit you will not go into effect overnight, here are critical improvements that will be felt right away.

Strengthening Medicare: Health care reform will strengthen and improve Medicare so today’s seniors and future generations have the health care they need by:

Protecting guaranteed Medicare benefits: You will continue to receive all of Medicare’s guaranteed benefits, including doctor and hospital visits and rehabilitation services.

Closing the Medicare Part D coverage gap or “doughnut hole”: In 2010, if you reach the doughnut hole, you will receive a rebate for $250 to help you pay for prescriptions. Beginning in 2011, if you reach the doughnut hole, you will receive a 50 percent discount on your drugs. The doughnut hole will be fully closed over the next 10 years.

Providing preventive care, such as screenings for cancer and diabetes, free of charge: You will no longer have to pay out of pocket for preventive care services. You will also be able to work with your doctor to develop your own plan to keep you as healthy as possible.

Improving access to primary care doctors: Your primary care doctor will receive bonuses for treating people in Medicare, so you can get higher quality and better coordinated care.

Making Insurance Affordable: Health care reform will make insurance more affordable for older Americans and hold down overall health care costs by:

Protecting Retirees: If you have retiree health coverage through your employer and are between 55 and 64, new Federal funds will encourage your employer to continue offering you health benefits.

Covering the Sick: If you can not find affordable coverage because of your medical history, you will have access to temporary insurance coverage.

Providing Preventive Care: Your insurance company will be required to provide you with preventive care, such as immunizations and screenings for cancer or diabetes, free of charge.

Helping Young Adults: If your young adult son or daughter needs health insurance, you can cover them on your insurance policy until they are 26 years old.

Promoting Healthy Living: You will be able to make healthier choices because chain restaurants and vending machines will be required to disclose nutrition content.

Helping Small Businesses: If you work for a small business, your employer may be eligible for tax credits that would cover up to 50 percent of your premiums.

Holding Insurers Accountable: Health care reform will stop insurance company abuses and discrimination by:

Preventing annual or lifetime limits: Insurance companies will be prevented from imposing lifetime limits or arbitrary annual limits on coverage, which will give you the peace of mind of knowing that your benefits won’t run out just when you need them most.

Limiting insurance company profits: New consumer protections will make sure insurance companies spend the bulk of their revenues paying for your medical care not insurance companies’ overhead and provide rebates to you if they do not.

Preventing insurance companies from dropping the sick: Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny you affordable coverage when you get sick.

Living Independently: Health reform will give you and your loved ones more choices to live independently at home as you age:

Expanding access to home and community based services: Your state will receive new financial incentives to provide more access to the services and supports you need to live independently in your home and community.

Making informed choices about long term care: Finding information on long term care can be overwhelming. This legislation provides funding for “one stop shops” to make it easier to get the information you need.

Providing better information and accountability for nursing home care: There will be a better process for you to file complaints about quality of care at a nursing home, and more information about complaints that have been filed. You will also get more information on nursing home quality and consumer rights. There will be improved training to help health professionals care for people with dementia and to help nursing homes prevent abuse.

Improving criminal background checks for long care: The legislation expands a successful program that runs criminal background checks on employees of long term care providers to help prevent potential abuse of older adults and people with disabilities needing long term care.

Now the bill still has to be voted on by the Senate. So stay tuned for further developments. But those are my thoughts, how about yours? Drop me a line and let me know.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab