Writings and observations

Material from a White House press release – about Idaho – seems worth quoting at some length, as a usually unspoken counterpoint to a pounded and re-pounded political point within the state.

There’s little counter-article in Idaho to the idea that the Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare” in political-speak – is a tyrannical horror. Few specifics about the horrors are ever offered.

The White House press release does have some specifics about the counter point of view. (It’d be interesting to hear how these specifics constitute freedom-robbing terrors.) From it:

Health reform is already making a difference for the people of Idaho by:

Providing new coverage options for young adults. Health plans are now required to allow parents to keep their children under age 26 without job-based coverage on their family’s coverage, and, thanks to this provision, 2.5 million young people have gained coverage nationwide. As of June 2011, 11,736 young adults in Idaho gained insurance coverage as a result of the new health care law.

Making prescription drugs affordable for seniors. Thanks to the new health care law, 16,559 people with Medicare in Idaho received a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole in 2010. In 2011, 14,963 people with Medicare received a 50 percent discount on their covered brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole. This discount resulted in an average savings of $579 per person, and a total savings of $8,665,605 in Idaho. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole.

Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay. In 2011, 153,007 people with Medicare in Idaho received free preventive services – such as mammograms and colonoscopies – or a free annual wellness visit with their doctor. And 54 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 283,000 in Idaho.

Providing better value for your premium dollar through the 80/20 Rule. Under the new health care law, insurance companies must provide consumers greater value by spending generally at least 80 percent of premium dollars on health care and quality improvements instead of overhead, executive salaries or marketing. If they don’t, they must provide consumers a rebate or reduce premiums. This means that 463,000 Idaho residents with private insurance coverage will receive greater value for their premium dollars.

Removing lifetime limits on health benefits. The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. Already, 566,000 residents, including 198,000 women and 173,000 children, are free from worrying about lifetime limits on coverage. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014.

Creating new coverage options for individuals with pre-existing conditions. As of the end of 2011, 316 previously uninsured residents of Idaho who were locked out of the coverage system because of a pre-existing condition are now insured through a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan that was created under the new health reform law. To learn more about the plan available in Idaho, check here.

Supporting Idaho’s work on Affordable Insurance Exchanges. Idaho has received $21.3 million in grants for research, planning, information technology development, and implementation of Affordable Insurance Exchanges.

$1 million in Planning Grants: This grant provides Idaho the resources needed to conduct the research and planning necessary to build a better health insurance marketplace and determine how its exchange will be operated and governed. Learn how the funds are being used in Idaho here. $20.3 million in Exchange Establishment Grants: These grants are helping States continue their work to implement key provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Learn how the funds are being used in Idaho here.

Preventing illness and promoting health. Since 2010, Idaho has received $4.6 million in grants from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act. This new fund was created to support effective policies in Idaho, its communities, and nationwide so that all Americans can lead longer, more productive lives.

Increasing support for community health centers. The Affordable Care Act increases the funding available to community health centers in all 50 states, including the 62 existing community health centers in Idaho. Health centers in Idaho have received $25.5 million to create new health center sites in medically underserved areas, enable health centers to increase the number of patients served, expand preventive and primary health care services, and support major construction and renovation projects.

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