Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Making History: President signs Health Care Reform Bill

After a century long struggle, President Obama signed the Health Care Reform Bill into law. I commend the President and the Democrats for a job well done. We witnessed history. In the plain words of Vice President Joe Biden, "this is a big f***ing deal!" Although this legislation is imperfect for the sound reasons articulated by progressives such as U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader on Democracy Now, this legislation provides major tangible benefits to the American people. As stated in Tara Siegal Bernard's New York Times article entitled "For Consumers, Clarity on Health Care Changes":

The legislation .... provide[s] coverage for as many as 32 million people who have been shut out of the market — whether because insurers deem them too sick or because they cannot afford ever-rising insurance premiums.

[Within] six months .... many plans [will] be prohibited from placing lifetime limits on medical coverage, and they [cannot] cancel the policies of people who fall ill. Children with pre-existing conditions [cannot] be denied coverage.

And dependent children up to age 26
[are] eligible for coverage under their parents’ plans — instead of the current state-by-state rules that often cut off coverage for children at 18 or 19.

And within three months ....., people who have been locked out of the insurance market because of a pre-existing condition
[will] be eligible for subsidized coverage through a new high-risk insurance program.

That special coverage
[will] continue until the legislation’s engine kicks into a higher gear in 2014, when coverage [will] be extended to a wider part of the population through Medicaid and new state-run insurance exchanges.

Those exchanges, or marketplaces,
[will] provide much more competitive, consumer-friendly online shopping centers of private insurance for people who are not able to obtain coverage through an employer.

In 2014, people with pre-existing conditions
[can] no longer be denied insurance, all lifetime and annual limits on coverage [will] be eliminated and new policies [will] be required to meet higher benefit standards.

While this landmark legislation is a major accomplishment, it must viewed as a single step toward the ultimate goal, free universal health care for all citizens.