While many Republicans are hopeful the Congress can repeal Obama’s new health care law, they should be mindful that key parts of the new health care law will go into effect this Saturday, January 1. The more onerous sections, including the mandate that everyone buy insurance, will not take effect until 2014. That being said, more than 20 provisions of the new law will go into effect in 2011, according to Kaiser Family Foundation timeline.
So, what goes into effect on January 1? According to The Hill, the following sections will be implemented this Saturday, January 1:
“Medical-loss ratio requirements: Healthcare plans must give rebates to customers if they spend less than 80 percent of premiums on health care (85 percent for the large-group market). However, a number of plans have been exempted from the requirements.
“Closing the donut hole: Medicare beneficiaries will receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescriptions, as the government works to close the Medicare Part D "donut" hole. The discount applies to drugs whose manufacturers have signed agreements with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; those who don't won't see their drugs covered by Part D.
“The "donut hole" refers to a gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage included in the 2003 law that created the program.
“Primary care bonus: Doctors will get a 10 percent Medicare bonus for primary care services, while general surgeons in health professional shortage areas will also get a 10 percent bump. The temporary bump lasts through Dec. 31, 2015.
“Medicare prevention benefits: Cost-sharing for Medicare-covered preventive services earning an "A" or "B" grade from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force will be eliminated. Medicare deductibles for colorectal cancer screening tests will also be waived, and Medicare coverage will be authorized for a personalized prevention plan.
“CLASS Act: A national, voluntary program will allow employees to purchase long-term care insurance. Enrollees who become disabled will be able to get payments to help them in their daily lives after they pay into the program for five years.
“Premium threshold freeze: The income threshold for income-related Part B premiums will be frozen at 2010 levels for 2011 through 2019. The Part D premium subsidy will be reduced for individuals earning more than $85,000 and couples earning above $170,000.
“Medicare Advantage changes: Payment rates to private Medicare Advantage plans will be gradually reduced in comparison to Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) rates. Payments will be frozen at 2010 levels, and plans cannot impose higher cost-sharing requirements for some benefits than required under the FFS program.
“Health home payments: States can allow Medicaid enrollees to designate a home healthcare service as their provider, and states can receive 90 percent federal matching payments for two years for home health-related care.
“Chronic disease prevention: States can receive three-year grants to develop comprehensive health lifestyle programs for Medicaid enrollees.
“Tax-free spending accounts: Costs for over-the-counter drugs not prescribed by a doctor will not be reimbursed through a health reimbursement account or flexible spending account. They also may not be reimbursed on a tax-free basis through a health savings account or Archer medical savings account.
“Quality strategy: The Department of Health and Human Services must report to Congress a strategy to improve healthcare service delivery, patient health outcomes and population health. The plan must be updated each year.”
It doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to see that it’s going to be an up hill battle to overturn ObamaCare. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is said to be gathering support to withhold funding for the new law. Democrats, however, are anticipating such as action. The craftily included the popular requirement for healthcare plans that spend less than 80 percent of premiums on healthcare services to provide rebates to customers. The Democratic mantra on January 1 will be: “We have given 32 million people health care insurance because of this law.”
The Republicans have the current advantage of the public’s general dislike of the new law, but will that be enough to reverse it? Will the Democrat’s new mantra brunt the Republican’s efforts?