Health Care Reform: What Happens Next?
On Sunday, March 21st, with a vote of 219 to 212, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 3590, the health care reform bill that was passed by the U.S. Senate on December 24th, 2009. President Obama signed the bill into law on Tuesday, March 23rd. On March 24th, the President also signed and Executive Order that restricts funding for abortions in the health care bill.
The House also passed (220 to 211) a “Reconciliation Bill” (HR 4872) on March 21st with “fixes’ or changes to the original Senate Bill. After debate which was limited to 20 hours, the Senate passed the Reconciliation Bill by a vote of 56 to 43. However, the Bill then had to go back to the House for another vote as the Senate Parliamentarian had found two minor provisions that violated Congressional Budget rules which were removed from the bill. The final Reconciliation Bill was approved by a House vote of 220 to 207. The President signed this final piece of legislation on Tuesday, March 30th.
Needless to say, it has been difficult enough to keep track of the legislative process and much more difficult to actually know and understand what it contains and means. We know that there are many more questions than there are answers at this point. One simple and common question that we have received from many of you is: “So what happens next?” In an effort to help answer that question, we have made two documents available to you. One is a simplified timeline of the Senate Bill that describes the major milestones that will impact you as an individual and as an employer. The other document is a detailed timeline that also encompasses facets of the Reconciliation “fixes” to the Senate Bill with, of course, much more detail on the Senate Bill.
The new health insurance laws are both comprehensive and complex. There will be much more information to follow in the coming weeks and months that will come from interpretation of this massive legislation. We anticipate much more confusion to ensue as both the Reform Bill and the Reconciliation Bill contain numerous contradictions that need to be dealt with. Also, lobbyists for the insurance industry, labor unions, hospitals and medical professionals, the pharmaceutical industry, and other special interest groups have turned their attention and focus to influence the interpretations and the writing of the Federal “governing rules” which will dictate insurance coverage, requirements for employers and the insurance exchanges created under the law.
Bottom line…we know it will be difficult to filter out the confusion which will come from many directions but we will do our best. We also know that underlying medical costs will continue to increase, compounded by new added-tax costs. That coupled with a slow economic recovery means that your business has never been more challenged. Contact any one of our R&R Benefits knowledge brokers to understand more about how this affects you and how we can be of assistance.
Watch for announcements regarding upcoming seminars/webinars on health reform updates. Also, stay on top of the new health reform laws and what they mean to you by visiting our dedicated web page: www.myknowledgebroker.com/beinformed. There you will find all of the important pieces of legislation, summary documents, news and other articles for you to view or download.