WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) released the following statement today in advance of the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This week, the White House also released a new report outlining the numerous benefits that the health law has brought to Ohioans, showing that thousands of Ohio seniors, small businesses, and young adults have benefited from stronger consumer protections and cost-reducing measures.
"One year later, the health care law is doing exactly what it was designed to do: ensure that the consumer is in the driver’s seat when it comes to health insurance. Thousands of Ohio seniors are now paying less for their prescription drugs, and more than 40,000 of their grandchildren are now eligible to stay on a family insurance plan up to age 26. Nearly 150,000 small business owners across our state are now eligible to receive tax credits to purchase coverage for their employees,” Brown said. “This law provides strong patient protections for consumers and lowers costs across the board. This is about ensuring that Ohioans get the biggest bang for their health care buck.”
Highlights from the White House’s report are below:
Reducing costs for seniors and strengthening Medicare.
Nearly two million Ohio seniors are now eligible for annual wellness exams and no-cost preventive health services through the Medicare program – services like mammograms and colonoscopies. More than 146,583 Ohio residents who hit the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole” received $250 tax-free rebates in 2010, and will receive a 50% discount on brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole this year. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole completely.
Offering new coverage options.
Insurance companies are now required to allow parents to keep their children up to age 26 without job-based coverage on their insurance plans. An estimated 40,600 young adults in Ohio could gain insurance coverage as a result of the law. Additionally, most insurance companies are now banned from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition. An estimated 643,000 kids with a pre-existing condition in Ohio will be protected because of this provision.
Lowering costs for small businesses.
The law provides $40 billion of tax credits to up to 4 million small businesses, including up to 147,029 in Ohio, to help offset the costs of purchasing coverage for their employees and to make premiums more affordable.
Improving the quality of coverage.
All Americans with insurance are now free from worrying about losing their insurance due to a mistake on an application, or having it capped unexpectedly if someone is in an accident or becomes sick. 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. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014. This will protect 6.9 million Ohio residents with private insurance coverage from these limits.
Making health care dollars work for consumer.
Beginning this year, health insurance plans will be required to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on actual medical care – rather than on overhead, marketing, or executive salaries. If the insurance company does not comply, then it must send rebate checks to its consumers. This will ensure that the premiums Ohioans are paying go to provide health care, not to filling the coffers of large insurance companies.
Providing flexibility and resources to states.
The Affordable Care Act also gives States the flexibility and resources they need to implement the law in the way that works for them. Under the law, States have received millions of dollars in Federal support for their work to hold down insurance premiums, build competitive insurance marketplaces, provide insurance to early retirees, and strengthen their public health and prevention efforts. So far, Ohio has received $151.4 million from the Affordable Care Act. Grants to Ohio include:
- $1.3 million to support a consumer assistance program
- $1 million to plan for a Health Insurance Exchange
- $1 million to crack down on unreasonable insurance premium increases
- $15.3 million to support capital development in community health centers
- $10.7 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund
- $15.1 million in Therapeutic Discovery Project Program Tax Credits and Grants
- $720,128 for Medicare improvements for patients and providers
- $3 million for demonstration projects to address health professions workforce needs
- $229,658 for Nursing and Home Health Aides Training Programs
- $3.2 million for Maternal, Infant and Childhood Home Visiting
To read the complete report on Ohio, click here.
Brown has held several events this year—in Cleveland, Toledo, Austintown, and Mansfield to date— aimed at educating seniors about new prescription drug benefits available to them through the health care reform law. Beginning January 1, 2011, the law provides Medicare beneficiaries with a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs and biologics if they enter the Medicare drug coverage gap, also known as the “donut hole.” Discounts will increase every year until 2020, when the “donut hole” will be completely filled and beneficiaries will only be responsible for the standard 25 percent co-insurance payment rather than the full 100 percent that they were paying prior to 2011.