On Sunday, March 21st, in a critical step toward the enactment of comprehensive health reform, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Senate health reform bill and the so-called "reconciliation bill" to make changes to the Senate bill. The Senate health reform bill, H.R. 3590, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed on a vote of 219 to 212. H.R. 4872, The Reconciliation Act of 2010, passed on a vote of 220-211.
The health reform bill has several health insurance reforms which could benefit the bleeding disorders community. In particular, the bill would:
- Eliminate lifetime caps in all – new and existing – health insurance plans 6 months after enactment
- Eliminate rescissions in all health insurance plans 6 months after enactment
- Extend coverage for dependents – who could stay on a parent or guardian's insurance plan until age 26 – in all health insurance plans 6 months after enactment
- Restrict annual caps in new plans before 2014, and then eliminate them in all new plans and existing group plans in 2014.
- Eliminate pre-existing conditions exclusions for children in new plans 6 months after enactment, and for all people in all plans in 2014
For this health reform bill to become law, the Senate must also pass the identical bill. The bill was drafted to satisfy rules under reconciliation, which only require a majority of the Senate, 51 Senators, to vote for the bill to pass, instead of the usual requirement for 60 Senators to cut off debate and proceed to a vote. While the Senate is expected to take up the bill shortly, procedural maneuvers by Republican Senators could delay the vote.
As health reform moves into this final stretch, NHF will continue to closely monitor the situation and actively advocate for the best possible outcomes to benefit our community. More information about the status the health reform debate and NHF's priority issues in the bill will be available in the April 2010 eNotes.