US House Passes Health Care Reform Package
On Sunday, March 21st, the US House of Representatives passed the Senate’s version of health care reform by a vote of 219 to 212. Democratic proponents of the landmark legislation appeared to solidify enough support to pass the bill when the White House struck a last minute deal with House members concerned with abortion funding language. Prior to the vote, the White House announced that President Obama would issue an Executive Order to ensure that the health care legislation would uphold current restrictions on federal funding for abortion. This Executive Order was signed on Wednesday, following the signing of the bill.
North Carolina Representatives who voted FOR the health care reform bill include:
G. K. Butterfield (D)
Bob Etheridge (D)
Brad Miller (D)
David Price (D)
Mel Watt (D)
North Carolina Representatives who voted AGAINST the health care bill include:
Larry Kissell (D)
Mike McIntyre (D)
Heath Shuler (D)
Howard Coble (R)
Virginia Fox (R)
Walter Jones (R)
Patrick McHenry (R)
Sue Myrick (R)
On Thursday, March 25, 2010, the Senate added amendments to the reconciliation bill which will be returned to the House for a final vote.
Although the government will immediately begin collecting taxes to fund the estimated $940 billion this legislation will cost, the total benefits outlined in the bill will not go into effect until 2014. The majority of the additional tax burden will fall on individuals whose annual income is over $200K and families whose total annual income exceeds $250K.
Other components of the bill that could affect dentistry include the following:
1. The bill will provide dental care for nearly every child in the country.
2. Grants will be issued for each of 15 “alternative dental health care providers demonstration projects”. The midlevel providers could be community dental health coordinators (CDHC), primary care physicians, dental therapists, dental health aides, or some new classification. They will be evaluated for their ability to “increase access to dental health care services in rural and other underserved communities.”
3. The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would launch a five year oral healthcare prevention campaign with the emphasis on community water fluoridation and dental sealants.
4. The CDC would award demonstration grants to research methods of managing caries.
5. The CDC would collect data at the level of tooth surfaces to monitor rates of oral health.
6. Grants totaling $30M for 2010 and “such sums as may be necessary” until 2015 will be authorized for schools that train general, pediatric, or public health dentists or hygienists.
7. Dental examination chairs and x-ray machines will have to be handicapped accessible in two years.
8. The government will pay the tuition for a least 100 dental students per year in exchange for their commitment to work with underserved populations.
9. Businesses with more than 50 employees will have to pay a $2,000 penalty for each worker without health insurance.
10. People whose annual income is less than 133% of the federal poverty index will be eligible to receive Medicaid benefits. This expansion of Medicaid could place greater strains on state budgets.
11. The bill bans lifetime limits on insurance payouts and prevents insurers from terminating coverage on people who become sick before 2014.
12. The bill limits to $2500 the amount that individuals can set aside in a flexible spending account before paying taxes starting in 2013.
We will have more information on health care reform as it becomes available.
Posted March 26, 2010