Dear Mr. Street Pharmacist:
Thank you for contacting me about health care reform. On March 25, I voted to pass the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. This legislation made some improvements to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which passed the Senate last year with my vote. President Obama signed both these pieces of legislation into law.
Under this new law, insurance companies will not be able to discriminate against folks with pre-existing conditions. Those who can't afford insurance will receive tax credits and subsidies to put toward the cost of purchasing a plan. Small businesses with less than 50 employees will not be required to do anything different, but they will have the opportunity to take advantage of tax credits if they choose to offer insurance. The government will invest in training more primary care doctors, paying them better, and making sure they have the opportunity to practice in the parts of the country that need them the most. Seniors in the Medicare Part D doughnut hole--the gap where they are forced to pay 100% of their prescription costs--will receive a rebate this year to help cover those costs, and the doughnut hole will be closed entirely by 2020.
There has also been a lot of misinformation out there about what exactly this new law does, so let's be clear: if you have health insurance now, you can keep it. If you own a business that offers health insurance, you don't have to do anything different. And members of Congress did not exempt themselves from any part of this law. In fact, members of Congress and their staffs are specifically required by this new law to purchase their health insurance through the State-based exchanges beginning in 2014. For a complete summary of the law in plain English, and tools to help you figure out how it will affect you personally, please visit the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation's website at http://healthreform.kff.org/
Again, I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue. Please don't hesitate to contact me in the future.
Senator Bill Nelson
A form letter. It didn't even come close to answering the question.