Today, health reform is the new law of the land. In a signing ceremony before an
enthusiastic group of supporters, President Obama signed the health reform
bill. (While the House-passed
reconciliation measure that makes some improvements to the health reform bill
is still pending in the Senate, the key elements of health reform are now
President Obama said the new law recognizes the fact that
“everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their healthcare.”
One of the more touching moments of the signing ceremony
was when President Obama paid tribute to an eleven-year-old boy who lost his
mother to an illness as she was uninsured and couldn’t afford necessary
treatment. It drove home for me
the point that the well-being of our nation’s children depends not only on
whether or not they have coverage but whether or not their whole family has
access to affordable, reliable coverage. If previous efforts to pass health reform had
succeeded, Marcellas Owen’s mother might still be alive and well today.
While many improvements to our healthcare system will be
gradually and thoughtfully put in place, there are some very important changes
that will take effect beginning this year such as:
- Young adults will be allowed to stay on their parent’s
policies until they are 26.
- Insurance companies no longer will be able to impose
lifetime limits or restrictive annual limits, nor can they drop coverage when someone becomes
- Children with insurance no longer can be denied
coverage for a pre-existing condition.
- Seniors no longer will pay a copay or deductible for
preventive care under Medicare (starting in 2011) and will start to see some early relief from the
Medicare drug benefit’s “doughnut hole.”
- Starting today, states will be required to “hold
steady” when it comes to providing Medicaid and CHIP coverage — they must at
least maintain the coverage that they have in place now and no longer can add
new red-tape barriers that make it harder for families to sign up for coverage.
At CCF, we would add one more:
- Five million more uninsured children could start
receiving affordable health coverage right now through state CHIP or Medicaid
plans. (These children are already eligible but unenrolled). With families expecting concrete gains
from health reform, it is a wonderful opportunity to educate people about the
chance to sign up uninsured children for coverage right away.
At CCF, we view passage of CHIPRA over a year ago, as
the beginning of health reform.
Many of the improvements included in CHIPRA will lay the foundation for
a successful transition to an era where everyone has access to affordable,
reliable health coverage. The
better job states do right now in removing red-tape from the system and
reaching out to eligible but unenrolled children, the stronger the foundation
will be for them to seize the opportunity to transform our health care
system into one that works better for everyone.