The White House is pushing for health reform and the president has encountered pressure on all sides to provide a detailed plan of his expectations.
President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and the White House posted a new list of key elements in the presidential reform plan to provide that detail. Following President Obama's address to Congress on September 9, here's what the White House posted online:
If you have health insurance, the plan will:
- Prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
- Prevent insurance companies from dropping coverage when people are seriously ill.
- Cap out-of-pocket expenses so people won't take on excessive medical costs when they get sick.
- Eliminate extra charges for preventive care like mammograms, flu shots and diabetes tests.
- Protect Medicare for seniors and eliminate the "donut-hole" -- a current gap in Medicare's drug benefit -- in coverage for prescription drugs.
If you don't have health insurance, the plan will:
- Create a new insurance marketplace -- the Exchange -- that allows people without insurance and small businesses to compare plans and buy insurance at competitive prices.
- Provide new tax credits to help people buy insurance and to help small businesses cover their employees.
- Offer a public health insurance option.
- Offer new, low-cost coverage through a national "high risk" pool to protect people with preexisting conditions from financial problems until the new Exchange is created.
For all Americans, the plan will:
- Avoid adding expenses to the deficit and be paid for upfront.
- Create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts to identify waste, fraud and abuse in the health care system.
- Order medical malpractice reform projects.
- Require large employers to cover their employees and individuals who can afford it to buy insurance.
For more detail on each of these points, read President Obama's updated health reform plan on the White House Web site.
Here are some additional points to note:
Cost: The White House says that the U.S. currently spends upwards of $2 trillion annually on health care. Under the new system, the White House claims expanded coverage would cost $100 billion per year in addition to current spending levels.
Who is paying: According to the White House, money for the new health care plan will be re-allocated money already spent on public health care. By re-allocating funds from "unwarranted subsidies to the insurance industry" and creating reforms to make health care more efficient, Obama says money will be saved to reform the system. In his budget outline, Obama set aside $630 billion over 10 years to pay for the expanded coverage.
Who is for the reform bill: Democrats are the strongest supporters of healthcare reform. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and President Obama all support healthcare reform legislation. The Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, a group of centrist Democrats in the House, has not yet taken a position on the bill, though they are against the public option which is included in each of the bills that have emerged from committees.
Who is against the reform bill: House Republican Leader Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, are leading the fight against the health reform bills..
Health care co-ops: The proposed co-op system would initially require $3 to $10 billion in federal funding, but would operate independent of the government. The co-ops would be non-profit, but, like private insurers, required to keep financial reserves to cover unexpected claims.
For more information check out the health reform information Web site.
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