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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Encouraging news on Health Care Affordibility Law

     While the Supreme Court mulls over the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care legislation it is interesting that  UnitedHealthcare, Humana and Aetna have already indicated that they plan on continuing to offer some of the aspects of the legislation even if the Court rules against the legislation.  The popular areas that they will be keeping is the part about parents being able to keep their children on their plans till age 26 (why not till 30 or 35?), eliminate lifetime dollar limits on insurance policies and to stop canceling policies unless the policyholder when they develop an illness unless they have engaged in fraud.
    While these are positive signs the crucial part of the law which is the individual mandate is still the important part of the law that will impact individuals and families who have a pre-existing condition.  If the individual mandate is struck down by the Court insurance companies will continue to deny insurance to persons with pre-existing conditions.  Insurance companies will never offer this coverage unless the insurance pool is balanced with requiring everyone to have insurance (or pay a penalty) to pay the cost for those with the pre-existing conditions. 

     The individual state reactions to the Affordable Health Care law has been varied from some states that have sued Health and Human Services (HHS) over being mandated to implement the law to others like Vermont that are beginning to develop a "Medicare for All" type of insurance program. They are working to develop an insurance program that provides insurance to any resident of Vermont.  Earlier this year the Governor of Vermont signed legislation to move the state in this direction.  Vermont like everyone else is waiting to learn how the Supreme Court is going to rule on the constitutionality of the law.  What Vermont hopes to be able to do is to ask for waivers from the Federal Government for Medicare and Medicaid programs to be able to put the federal dollars for Vermont residents in those programs into a pool with State dollars to develop a program of universal care for its residents.  If the law is overturned by the Supreme Court they will have to put together a piecemeal universal program that will have Vermont residents in one of three programs---Medicare, Medicaid and the Green Mountain Care program. This will be more complex and costly to administer.  The Governor is up for re-election next year and the feeling is that the program will not move forward unless he is re-elected.

      Here in Maryland the State is moving ahead to set up the health care exchange that are a key part of the legislation.  The State has developed the Maryland Health Care Insurance Plan for those individuals with pre-existing conditions and have not had insurance for at least six months.  I received the following information on this program:

"MHIP Federal is a health insurance plan created specifically to provide comprehensive health care coverage to Maryland residents who have a pre-existing medical condition and have been without health insurance coverage for at least six months. MHIP was created specifically for individuals with pre-existing conditions, who cannot otherwise obtain commercial insurance. There are other programs — both commercial and government-subsidized –- available for individuals who do not have a pre-existing condition.

MHIP Federal requires individuals to have been uninsured for 6 months. This helps us afford the program overall and ensure that people who need the insurance most get it.

Carefirst is the program administrator for MHIP Federal, and they manage the entire program—from application to administration.

Regarding federal money involved in this program - Yes, in 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) established a federal high risk pool for citizens and lawful Maryland residents who have a pre-existing medical condition and have been without health insurance coverage for at least six months. MHIP is contracted with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to operate the federal high risk pool for Maryland, (MHIP Federal).

MHIP Federal was established through the health care reform passed in 2009 (Affordable Care Act/ACA). It is one piece of the reform that is currently in place today including:
o Discounts on prescription drugs for seniors
o Insurance for pre-existing conditions in high-risk pools
o Children can remain on parents’ health insurance plans until the age of 26
o Children under the age of 19 can no longer be denied coverage due to diseases such as asthma or diabetes"

  To apply for this program call  1-888-444-9016

   Here in Howard County we have the county designed program called Healthy Howard.  One aspect of the program is called the Door to Healthcare.  This is a one stop place for County residents without health insurance to find out about programs for which they may be eligible and offers an affordable program for those who are not qualified for any of the other programs. This program has been praised for its success in decreasing the number of county residents without insurance.

Listening to Morning Joe this morning I just learned what our fast food restaurants are providing for the summer. Burger King has this offering. 
Taco Bell's new breakfast drink of orange juice and Mountain Dew 
Golden Corral introduces cotton candy
I guess this explains the obesity problem in our country a little bit.

P.S. 1
This reminded me of an old joke along the same lines.

"Even though Morris and Sadie had been married for a very, very long time, they still decided to visit a divorce lawyer in Camden Town. At the first meeting, the solicitor asks them, "Why in the world do you want to get divorced? You each look well into your nineties. Why now of all times?"
Morris replies, "Actually, I'm 102 and my wife Sadie is 101."
The solicitor is totally bemused and asks them again "So why do you want a divorce now?"
Sadie replies this time, "Well, we wanted to wait until all of the children were dead."

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