From ALLIANCE FOR RURAL COMMUNITY HEALTH
There remains among the public a great deal of uncertainty about how President Obama’s health care initiative will impact health costs and protect consumers. The new law continues to take center stage in an increasingly heated political climate.
We believe that as provisions designed to protect consumers become law, and as election-season fervor subsides, the mood around country and county will allow for a less cynical outlook on the most important piece of social reform in the last half century.
First Health Care Reform Provisions Enacted
On the six month anniversary of the Affordable Care Act’s passage, a series of important reforms mark the first steps of the health industry overhaul.
As of September 23rd, all private health plans will be prohibited from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. In addition, all private health insurers will be prohibited from placing lifetime caps on coverage. Annual limits will also be subject to strict regulation.
The law also bars insurers from denying coverage to children younger than 19 who have pre-existing conditions.
In a measure that reflects the law’s focus on cutting costs through access to preventive care, all private plans will be required to cover all preventive services without consumer co-payments.
One of the most popular measures will allow young people under the age of 26 access to insurance through the expansion of their parents’ coverage.
In addition, the new law prohibits wage-based discrimination in new employer health plans.
Lastly, the new law establishes an independent appeals process to ensure that consumers with new plans have access to an effective appeals process to appeal insurers’ decisions.
These changes will not affect your existing insurance plan! To ensure that you receive these benefits, contact your health insurer after September 23rd to negotiate a contract or a renewal that incorporates these changes.
California Budget Impasse Threatens Mendocino County Health System
On August 26th community health centers across the state began receiving IOUs in place of Medi-Cal payments. Collectively, community health centers in Mendocino County are losing $259,619 each week, or 54 percent of total patient revenue.
A statewide emergency loan fund of $22 million established by the California HealthCare Foundation has already been exhausted. Many fear that the impasse will continue until the newly elected governor takes office next January. The events of this year are an important reminder of the need for legislative protection of community health centers, to ensure that our community’s well-being is never threatened by the shortcomings of our state’s governance.