I suppose it's not shocking from a candidate who thinks we would have been better off if Medicare and Medicaid had never been created, and who thinks that "Medicare has never done anything to make people more healthy," but I was still a little surprised to see this quote in the new Post-Dispatch story about the health care reform positions of Roy Blunt and Robin Carnahan.
"The health care law doesn't really take effect until 2014," said Blunt spokesman Rich Chrismer, 'so the only option Congress has at this point is to decline to allocate tax dollars for this government takeover."
While it is true that 2014 is an important milestone in the implementation of the new law -- at that point, health insurers will be prohibited from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions (something Roy Blunt used to tell voters he supported, but then failed to do anything about), and tax penalties will begin for individuals who do not purchase insurance -- Chrismer's statement demonstrates an incredible ignorance about what is actually contained in the law he claims to detest.
In fact, Roy Blunt wants to junk all of the following new provisions that are taking effect in 2010. (Perhaps because he's been so blinded by thoughtless obstruction to notice.)
- Young adults will be able stay on their parents' insurance until their 26th birthday.
- Seniors will get a $250 rebate to help fill the "doughnut hole" in Medicare prescription drug coverage, which falls between the $2,700 initial limit and when catastrophic coverage kicks in at $6,154.
- Insurers will be barred from imposing exclusions on children with pre-existing conditions. Pools will cover those with pre-existing health conditions until health care coverage exchanges are operational.
- Insurers will not be able to rescind policies to avoid paying medical bills when a person becomes ill.
- Lifetime limits on benefits and restrictive annual limits will be prohibited.
- New plans must provide coverage for preventive services without co-pays. All plans must comply by 2018.
- A temporary reinsurance program will help offset costs of coverage for companies that provide early retiree health benefits for those ages 55 to 64.
- New plans will be required to implement an appeals process for coverage determinations and claims.
- Adoption tax credit and assistance exclusion will increase by $1,000. The bill makes the credit refundable and extends it through 2011.
- A 10 percent tax will be imposed on amounts paid for indoor tanning services on or after July 1.
- Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will get tax credits covering 35 percent of their health care premiums, increasing to 50 percent by 2014.
Again, these are all 2010 provisions -- provisions that Chrismer indicates do not actually exist. Maybe if he knew more about the law, we'd see a little less demagoguery from Blunt and other Republicans?
And then there's 2011:
- Medicare will provide free annual wellness visits and personalized prevention plans. New plans will be required to cover preventive services with no co-pay.
- States can offer home- and community-based services to the disabled through Medicaid rather than institutional care beginning October 1.
- A 50 percent discount will be provided on brand-name drugs for Prescription Drug Plan or Medicare Advantage enrollees. Additional discounts on brand-name and generic drugs will be phased in to completely close the "doughnut hole" by 2020.
- Additional tax for health savings account withdrawals before age 65 for nonqualified medical expenses will increase from 10 percent to 20 percent. Additional tax for Archer medical savings account withdrawals not used for qualified medical expenses will increase from 15 percent to 20 percent.
- A plan to provide a vehicle for small businesses to offer tax-free benefits will be created. This would ease the small employer's administrative burden of sponsoring a cafeteria plan.
- The Medicare payroll tax will increase from 1.45 percent to 2.35 percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 and married filing jointly above $250,000.
You can read more about the implementation of the new law here, here and here. It might be worth a few minutes of your time before you start spouting off dumb comments about how "The health care law doesn't really take effect until 2014."
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/royblunt