Looking Forward: What Might Change Quickly If Health Overhaul Passes
Several news outlets look at what might happen if health reform legislation passes.
McClatchy examines benefits that "would take effect quickly and should produce a noticeable impact on consumers, according to many independent analysts and Democrats." The House and Senate bills "would bar lifetime limits on coverage, starting six months after the measure is enacted. They also would expand community health centers, where consumers could go for care, and would require health plans to allow young people, up to age 26 in the Senate bill and 27 in the House bill, to stay on their parents' policies. Age requirements now vary by state. Both bills provide immediate aid for the uninsured. The Senate bill includes $5 billion to help finance a temporary program that would provide coverage to uninsured people with pre-existing conditions, effective 90 days after the bill is signed" (Lightman, 1/5).
CNN: "Arguments over the massive overhaul of the health care system -- which congressional Democrats hope to pass by next month -- are expected to keep shaking up the country long after the vote." David Gergen, who worked in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton administrations, explains that "unlike other major legislation which has passed with more bipartisan support, health care is going to remain a political football, and people are going to have a sense that it is not fully settled yet for a while" (Keck, 1/5).
Fox News: "For the first time ever, the federal government is going to require that everybody obtain health insurance coverage. [F]or young adults, many of whom are not currently covered, the health care bill will add a new and costly expense to their budgets. 'The Census Bureau tells us there are 18 million people between the ages of 18 and 35 who are uninsured -- roughly half of the uninsured population are younger people in that age group,' said Anne Kim, with the non-profit think tank Third Way. ... [A]nyone who refuses to get coverage will be fined under the health care package. In the Senate bill, the fines start low at $95 a year in 2014, and they eventually rise to between $750 and $2,250, depending on the income of the person being fined. In the House bill, the fine is calculated as 2.5 percent of the income of the person being penalized" (Angle, 1/5).
The Washington Times on flexible spending plan changes: "Tens of millions of consumers face higher costs for over-the-counter medicines such as cold remedies and vitamins if Democrats keep a provision in their health care overhaul bills to limit the use of tax-free health care spending accounts. Consumers no longer would be able to tap their flexible spending accounts to make health-related purchases without a doctor's approval, which critics say would drive up health care costs" (Haberkorn, 1/6).