Missouri’s slice of the healthcare-reform pie

How will health care reform–officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)–specifically impact Missouri residents? Nationally, PPACA received a lot of media attention – the good, the bad, and the ugly – over the weeks and months leading up to its passage. In August, despite a steady national  increase in support of the law, some Missouri voters [a skewed sample, according to Media Matters] approved Proposition C, which was designed as a rebuke to government officials who want to mandate health insurance coverage.
With all the contradictory reports, misinformation, and political spin floating around out there, many people are still understandably confused about the nature of the bill. If you are struggling to pay bills, find work, or are just concerned about arbitrary rate hikes, you might also wonder how exactly this bill helps you. That is why, with so much energy going into the controversy surrounding the bill, it is so important to get the facts.

Here, now, in Missouri

Some of the benefits of the PPACA have already rolled out, with more scheduled to go into effect every year for the next 4 years. Some of the immediate benefits include:

  • Tax credits for small businesses. More than 94,000 small businesses in Missouri could receive credits that help make the costs associated with health coverage for their employees more affordable. And this is just the beginning.
  • Consumer protections, such as:
    • the elimination of lifetime limits on insurance coverage
    • putting a stop to rescission (dropping people from the rolls because they get sick)
    • preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions
    • making appeals easier
    • and allowing patients to choose their own primary care provider regardless of network inclusion.
  • Extending coverage by allowing young people to stay on their parents’ plans until they reach the age of 26.
  • Providing funding for the expansion and creation of community health centers. In Missouri, 180 community health centers will receive additional funding. These centers are often the only providers of health care to uninsured Missourians, who currently total about 750,000 people.
  • Insurance for uninsured Missourians with pre-existing conditons. As of July 1, 2010, the federal government has provided Missouri with over $81 million to provide coverage through a transitional high-risk pool.
  • Increasing the ranks of Missouri doctors. On October 1st, $1.5 billion (over the next 5 years) will help fund the National Health Service in order to provide scholarships and loan repayments for doctors, nurses, and other health care providers who work in areas with a shortage of health professionals.
  • Missouri now has the option of accepting federal Medicaid funding to cover low-income Missourians, regardless of age, disability, or family status. (current Missouri eligibility limits Medicaid coverage to children and pregnant women.)

Coming soon to Missouri

While provisions of the Affordable Care Act implemented thus far primarily aid those who need it most – children, seniors, those who are uninsured and ill – future aspects of the bill will help more and more people.  Among these provisions will be:

  • discounts for seniors
  • the elimination of discrimination based on health status
  • a new health care exchange so people can “shop around” for plan
  • tax credits for individuals making 400% or less than the Federal Poverty Level
  • rewards for physicians who put quality before quantity

About that mandate

The Affordable Care Act addresses the many issues Americans are facing: affordability, access, and quality of care. By mandating health insurance coverage and free preventative care, it also addresses one of the most talked about aspects of health care reform: the cost of providing so many Americans with health care. Like any private insurance pool, there must be a number of healthy individuals paying into the pot so that there is money there for people in the same pool who become sick or injured. By mandating that even healthy people must acquire coverage, the pool increases and these low-risk people are covered in case of accident or sudden illness. This and other measures protect people from devastating medical bills, and for this reason, it  is very similar to Missouri’s car- insurance mandate.
The cost of healthcare reform, demythologized

If you are still concerned about the cost of health care reform, the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate net reduction in deficits will be $143 billion through 2019 as a direct result of reform.  And don’t worry; if you still cannot afford health insurance, the Affordable Care Act allows you to apply for exemption from the mandate.
If you are uninsured, be sure to visit the Deparment of Health and Human Services to learn about your options,or visit HealthCare.gov to find public, private, and community programs that will provide you with the care you need.