What Lemaaseh is in the Health Care Reform Bill?


health-billLess than 24 hours after the House passed the historic health care reform legislation, it was taken Monday to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign. There was mixed reaction from the public — with many trying to figure out how this new bill will impact them.

Nearly a century after the idea was first floated, health care reform is about to become law. But after so much divisiveness and ugliness, particularly from the Texas congressman who yelled “baby killer” to a colleague who cut a deal with the White House.

After all of this, change will come almost immediately. In the next six months, young adults can remain covered under their parents’ policies longer.

“I’m on my parents insurance so I’ll be able to stay on till I’m 26 under their plan. I’m happy to have that. I’m thrilled,” said Eric Kanner of St. Petersburg, Fla.

Seniors will see a big difference when it comes to the gap in coverage with prescription medicine, known as the “donut hole.”

“Immediately next year seniors are going to get a $250 check if they hit the donut hole and then by the year 2014, were going to close it completely,” said Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-Brooklyn and Queens.

And kids with pre-existing illnesses will no longer be excluded.

“If you have a child who has asthma and you haven’t been able to get coverage, those restrictions will no longer hold,” said Sara Collins, VP of the Commonwealth Fund.

And adults with pre-existing conditions will soon be able to get insurance too, thanks to a national high-risk pool.

“So you can gain coverage through that program in the interim between the passage of the law and the implementation of the exchanges in 2014,” Collins said.

The plan adds to the ranks of the insured in two ways:

“The expansion of Medicaid is a huge change from where we are right now,” Collins said.

Families making $29,000 or less will now be eligible for Medicaid, while families not poor enough for Medicare — those making between $30,000 and $88,000 — will receive subsidies to buy health insurance through state-run insurance exchanges.

“I think it’s only fair if you are mandating insurance that there are provisions to enable people to have a cheaper choice,” said Andaiye Taylor of Newark.

In 2014 the individual mandate kicks in — everyone has to have insurance or be fined. Exceptions will be made for the poor. There’s also an employer mandate — businesses with 50 employees or more that don’t offer health insurance will be fined.

And gone will be the days insurance companies drop you for past illnesses or put a cap on coverage.

“Insurance companies can no longer place limits on what your plan will pay over your lifetime,” Collins said.

Still, it’s a bill that didn’t get the support from any House Republicans, who say Democrats ignored the very people they represent.

“This was a liberal Democratic socialistic agenda that was forced down the throats of the American people and the American people just don’t want it,” said Rep. Peter King, R-Long Island.

All eyes next turn to the Senate to pass the so-called “fix-it” bill. Republicans will have a series of amendments and if they are successful changing even a single word it could force the house to begin all over again.

CBSMoneyWatch.com’s Editor-At-Large Jill Schlesinger answered questions about the new health care reform bill. Here’s a look at the transcript so you can catch up on all the questions that were asked:

WCBSteve: On our Facebook page, Dave Burrell asks, “When they say seniors will get $250 to help with Rx what age do they mean?”

Jill Schlesinger: Dave–In addtion to prescription drug discounts that will flow out of the reform, I believe that “seniors” would mean anyone who has actually filed for Social Security benefits. That could include those who decided to file for SS benefits BEFORE their SS “full retirement age” (FRA.)

Jessica: Hi Jill, i am a New York City teacher in a union with great health benefits. What kind of new taxes should I expect to see with this new bill?

Jill_Schlesinger: Depending on your tier (New York City has Tiers 1-4 for employees who entered the retirement system at different points in time). Health Care Reform will phase in a new excise tax on “high premium” or “Cadillac” insurance plans. The tax will equal 40% of premiums paid on plans costing more than $27,500 annually for a family, starting in 2018. So, that’s a long answer to let you know that you will probably have new costs to absorb, eight years from now.

Fran: I am on Social Security at one point I had Medicaid now that I don’t have insurance how does this healthcare bill help me and where can I get insurance?

Jill_Schlesinger: Chances are that if you are currently collecting Medicaid because your income is below existing limits, you will continue to receive health care benefits via Medicaid. In fact, the new plan will actually EXPAND Medicaid to anyone under the age of 65, with income eligibility levels of 133% of pverty levels, which is $29,327 a year for a family of 4.

Bill: what happens to Medicaid?

Jill_Schlesinger: Medicaid benefits will be cut by over $500 billion over the next 10 years–that’s one of the ways that the government plans to pay for the new plan. As mentioned in the previous question, the new health care reform will actually EXPAND Medicaid to anyone under the age of 65, with income eligibility levels of 133% of poverty levels, which is $29,327 a year for a family of 4. It is expected that the new plan will add some 16 million people to the plans. The government will pay for 100% of the cost at first, but then states will absorb 10% of the cost…EXCEPT of course, Nebraska, whose senior Senator ben Nelson was able to negotiate NO COSTS to citizens of Nebraska…

ariet: my son graduates from college in May and he is 23 years old. Does the passing of the bill means that he will be able to remain on my insurance until age 26?

Jill_Schlesinger: The new plan requires the extension of health care benefits to dependents up to age 26.

emilysmommy506: We are able to get insurance through my husband’s company but have to pay for it all out of pocket. His company does not help at all. This is around $1,300.00 a month. Will this reform help us at all? We make around $90,000.00 a year.

Jill_Schlesinger: It depends on the size of the company. For companies with fewer than 25 employees whose average wage is $40,000 or less, tax credits will be available. You may also be eligible for tax credits, if you are a family of four and your income is up to 88,000,w hcih may be the case for you after your adjustments to income….

figgie: Why tax my dividends more?

Jill_Schlesinger: OK, let’s make sure that everyone gets this twist: there will be NEW TAXES levied on certain high-income earners. There will be an increase in Medicare payroll taxes on individuals who earn $200,000 and married couples who earn $250,000. These earners will also see an additional 3.8% tax on unearned income, like investment interest and capital gains generated in taxable accounts.

figgie: Am I capped with no more than $28,000 out of pocket medical expenses?

Jill_Schlesinger: According to the new plan, there will be an eventual elimination of both lifetime and annual limits on coverage, as well as pre-existing conditions, by 2014…

Stacy: If children can remain on parents insurance until age 26, does this set presidence for emancipation age for child support payments to a custodial parent froma non-custodial parent as well?

Jill_Schlesinger: This is an interesting question–one which will likely be raised by attorneys. At this point, there is no specific mention of any change to the age of emancipation as a result of this bill.

jo: I am a retired teacher. I live in Orange County, New York. What is going to happen to my Medicare insurance, and what will taxes be? My husband has cancer. He is retired from the post office and is dependent on my health insurance and medicare.

Jill_Schlesinger: There should be no changes to your husband’s care–that’s very important! No pre-existing condition exclusions…as far as your taxes, there may be some extra charges, depending on the amount of your pension…

verbayna: My son will be graduating college in May. My husband has insurance through a union. Will he still be covered?

Jill_Schlesinger: Yes–he should be covered until age 26, or until he gets a job…:)

figgie: What are the “characteristics” of a “cadillac” plan?

Jill_Schlesinger: A Cadillac plan is one that costs more than $27,500 annually (total cost, which includes employer and employee contributions) for a family.

shell: We had to put our son on COBRA in January since he t urned 23. Can he return to our health plan ntil the age of 26?

Jill_Schlesinger: He should be able to do so…BUT, don’t make any moves to remove him until you can confirm new coverage.

JokermanB: My current health benefit on my insurance is limited to $7,500. When will this limit go away such that I receive unlimited benefits per the bill that President Obama should sign tomorrow?

Jill_Schlesinger: Limits should be lifted with the final signing of the bill into law.

hello: hello: I will be graduating from college in May, will I be able to get insurance now that the health care bill has passed?

Jill_Schlesinger: You could potentially be carried on your parents’ insurance until age 26; you could purchase coverage through an insurance exchange, or best case scenario–you land a job where your employer offers you insurance!

bg31755: Cobra coverage is currently 18 months for the unemployed. Is there any extention on the length of time Cobra will cover you

Jill_Schlesinger: There was no mention of COBRA in the bill, but it could be extended in some of the jobs bills that are currently in negotiation.

figgie: Where do Long term care plans stand? I pay no further premiums because they pay $12,000 a month for my home care. Will I pay tax on the benefits?

Jill_Schlesinger: I don’t believe that there will be taxes on your benefits. In fact, there may be a greater incentive for people to consider long-term care insurance since there are BIG proposed cuts ($44B over the next 10 years) in Medicare payments to skilled nursing facilities.

fedup: The subsidy offered to familes earning less than $88,000.00, how many members must that family have? Second, is this the same across all states?

Jill_Schlesinger: There are tax credits offered NATIONALLY for individuals and families making up to 400% of the federal poverty level, or 88K for a family of 4.

apple_annie: This healthcare plan is not supposed to cover “undocumented aliens” except in critcal care issues as spexified in previous laws. What is the process for insuring this since you can’t ask if a person is illegal? Also what is critical, a woman in labor??

Jill_Schlesinger: This is a great point–I haven’t seen much written about the undocumented folks…

fedup: Did I understand that illegal immigrants will be offered free health care? Wasn’t that assured not to happen?

Jill_Schlesinger: No, that’s not the case. US citizens and legal residents are covered by the plan. BUT, there is an exemption for economic hardship, religous objections, American Indians, those without coveage for less than three months, undocumented immigrants and incarcerated individuals who require “critical care”.

bogus: i have a supplemental catostrophic health plan that picks up after $10,000 in bills. keep it or dump it?

Jill_Schlesinger: Hmmm…my recommendation is to do nothing just yet. Wait until you see how all of the rules shake out and hopefully by the end of the year, you will be able to dump it and save your premium dollars.

LINDA: My husban recently passed away. I am still covered by his health plan til June. I am unemployed & planned on applying for medicaid. How will the new health plan help or hurt me?

Jill_Schlesinger: If you were likely to qualify for Medicaid under the old rules, you shouldn’t have a problem under the new plan.

letgo: I literally just lost my job on friday. I have the option of my company paying 2 mths. of my health insurance or taking the equavalent in cash. With the changes in health care would it make any sense to take the $ and seek out a new provider?

Jill_Schlesinger: I know you want the case, but I would take the coverage. It’s going to take some time for all of the adminsitrative issues to be ironed out.

libertycrazy: my question is…are the working people going to get taxed to help pay for this healthcare? I already pay every week for health coverage and to pay taxes on top of that would be a lot.

Jill_Schlesinger: It depends on how much you earn…if you make more than $200,000 as an individual or $250,000 as a couple, you are going to pay more in taxes. Otherwise, you should hopefully be OK.

Barb: My 18 months of Cobra coverage ends at the end of April. Is the any extention to Cobra in the bill.

Jill_Schlesinger: COBRA not in the health care bill, but keep an eye on the various jobs bills working through Congress…

theresa: What if my employer finds it cheaper to pay the $2000 fine than to continue to pay his portion of my insurance premiums, and decides to drop my benefits.

Jill_Schlesinger: That would stink, but it’s a valid question. If your employer pays that fee, you would then be forced to purchase insurance through new state-based purchasing pools.

Stumped: Hi Jill, I work 32 hours a week and am attending a masters degree progam. I work for a small family owned business. I currently have Healthy New York/Oxford Insurance and pay for my own insurance. Two questions, does my employer have to offer me insurance under the new health plan? If not will I lose my current eligibilty for insurance?

Jill_Schlesinger: Under the new plans, employers only have to offer coverage for full-time employees. BUT, in some companies, full time is defined at less than 40 hours a week, so you should check with your employer. The good news, I think is that even if you don’t get coverage through your employer, you will hopefully be able to purchase cheaper insurance through the Exchange.

js: I have medical benefits through my employer but I pay the monthly premium myself (no company contribution). Should I expect any premium adjustment?

Jill_Schlesinger: You may be able to qualify for tax credits, depending on your income.

jfm: My father is a diabetic and his employer does not offer insurance, what does this bill mean for him and who should he contact? He is a resident of NJ.

Jill_Schlesinger: Chances are, his employer will either start offering insurance or he will be able to purchase coverage through the Exchange, which may or may not be subsidized, depending on his income.

JJ: My 21 year old daughter is graduating from college in May. Will she be able to stay on my policy which I have through my work or will she need to go on COBRA?

Jill_Schlesinger: She should be able to stay on your plan.

vincent: I’m a teenager and I’am under my parents insurance plan through the company he he works for. Now that the healthcare reform was passed will I recieve more benifits?

Jill_Schlesinger: Probably not more benefits, but dependents are now covered up to age 26.

MeiLing: I am very concerned about the cost to us. My husband and I do not have insurance and even with a federal subsidized program because we make under $88000 how much is it going to cost us each month. We live paycheck to paycheck now with nothing left!

Jill_Schlesinger: The tax credits should help cover the cost…

irene: Will insurance companies have to accept back children who have previously aged out of their parents’ plan?

Jill_Schlesinger: They are supposed to do just that…

{CBS/AP/Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. You forgot the forced vaccinations part, though I’m sure the mainstream media is complicit in covering up those parts of the bill.

  2. Will the health care reform help people with pre-existing conditions such as obesity get the surgery they need to help improve their health. Currently my employer has an exclusion clause and no matter what they will not pay for this surgery. I’ve appealed their decision with supporting documentation stating this was medically necessary and was still denied. We pay $302.52 per month just for medical and this does not include dental and vision. Our deductible is based on the type of plan you signed up for and the coverage is not that great. We live in Texas but the company we’re employed by is based out of Kentucky.


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