Reid Hails Health Insurance Reform Initiatives That Become Effective January 1

Las Vegas, NV— Nevada Senator Harry Reid today announced several major elements of the Affordable Care Act that go into effect January 1st. These provisions help Nevada consumers get the most out of their health care, bring down costs and provide better care for seniors through improvements to Medicare.

“Thanks to the reform we passed millions of Americans are already getting access to the quality affordable care they need.  For example, no longer can an insurance company deny children coverage because they are ill.  Young adults can now be included on their parents’ insurance policy through the age of 26.  Those provisions are already in effect,” Reid said.  “Now, as we begin a new year, Nevadans will continue to experience the benefits of insurance reform as these provisions reduce costs and help seniors afford the care they need.  One of the important provisions going into effect ensures that the money you send to your health insurance company actually goes toward covering medical care.  Another provision protects taxpayers’ dollars by cracking down on overpayments to insurance companies. Seniors approaching the Medicare ‘doughnut hole’ will finally get some relief thanks to a 50 percent prescription drug discount provided by the law.”

The following provisions of the Affordable Care Act take effect on January 1, 2011.

For all health care consumers:

• Health insurance companies are now required to spend 80 to 85 percent of premiums on health care and quality improvements for patients—not on overhead or CEO salaries. Insurers who have not redirected premiums so that at least 80 percent goes to customer care will be required to provide a rebate to their customers starting in 2012.

For seniors:

• Seniors who reach the doughnut hole coverage gap for prescription drugs will receive a 50 percent discount when buying brand-name medications. Over the next ten years, seniors will receive additional discounts until the coverage gap is closed.

• Seniors will receive free preventive services, such as annual checkups and certain preventative screenings.

• The Community Care Transitions Program will help high-risk Medicare beneficiaries who are hospitalized avoid unnecessary readmissions by coordinating care and connecting patients to services in their communities.

• The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation will begin testing new ways of delivering care to patients. These new methods are expected to improve the quality of care and reduce the rate of growth in costs for Medicare, Medicaid, and Nevada Check Up.

Already the Affordable Care Act has opened up access to quality health care and helped small companies provide health insurance to their employees. Provisions that took effect in 2010 include:
• Prohibiting denial of coverage to children who were excluded due to preexisting conditions

• Extending coverage to young adults up to age 26 so they can stay covered as they start their careers

• Delivering tax relief for small businesses across Nevada to help them continue to provide health insurance to their workers

• Creating a system to help early retirees not yet eligible for Medicare keep their savings and stay insured

• Requiring all new plans to provide free preventative screenings including mammograms and colonoscopies

• Ending insurance companies’ ability to rescind coverage when people get sick or impose lifetime caps on those with chronic illness

• Investing millions into community health programs and helping states like Nevada provide coverage for low income families through Medicaid