Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday announced the release of a new report highlighting the benefits of health insurance reform.
“In my home state of Kansas, we estimate some very beneficial things will happen with health insurance reform,” she said during a teleconference call.
The report provides specific details on the benefits of the bill that will be debated by the Senate. Under health insurance reform in Kansas:
• 360,000 residents who do not currently have insurance and 183,000 residents who have nongroup insurance could get affordable coverage through the health insurance exchange.
• 197,000 residents could qualify for premium tax credits to help them purchase health coverage.
• 416,000 seniors would receive free preventive services.
• 73,900 seniors would have their brand-name drug costs in the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” halved.
• 43,000 small businesses could be helped by a small business tax credit to make premiums more affordable.
“We know there are some benefits that are hard to quantify, but we know they come along with this like the peace of mind of knowing that no matter what happens, you and your family will always be able to get health coverage,” she said.
The report also notes that if we do nothing, by 2019 the number of uninsured people will grow by at least 10 percent in every state.
Additionally, some businesses will see their premiums more than double and fewer people will have coverage through an employer if the status quo continues.
“We know that from the study done by the Business Roundtable, that employer-based health costs are scheduled to triple from around $10,000 a year to almost $30,000 by 2019. With reform, that same study shows that the costs actually decrease by $3,000,” Sebelius said. “So 10 years more of doing nothing means a pretty bleak picture. That’s why I am heartened by the progress made in Congress.”
The Senate cleared the way Saturday for debate on legislation unveiled by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. The bill, a compromise between two committee-passed versions, could undergo significant changes as senators amend it during weeks of debate ahead.
Sebelius warned consumers to be cautious about what they hear.
“Over the next couple of weeks, we are going to see more misinformation and lots more lobbyists hired to be up on Capitol Hill, trying to stop the progress that’s been made,” she said.
On Thursday, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour along with 14 other Republican governors denounced Democratic efforts to reform health care and said that states will bear the financial burden if enacted.
“Sen. Reid’s bill, like the House bill, guts Medicare and is a huge cost shift that will have to be borne by states,” Barbour said, according to a CNN article.
In response, Sebelius — the former Kansas governor — said “to assume that this population is currently free to states, I think, is one of the misnomers.”
She said states are picking up the costs through charity care and providing state dollars for hospitals and providers.
“They put a lot of money on the table for the uncompensated care — millions and millions of dollars are currently delivered,” she said. “So, this would put a system in place where at least two-thirds, and for the first couple of years 100 percent, of the expanded population would actually be borne by the federal government and greatly reduce the kind of state dollars that are being spent year in and year out.”
According to the report, Kansas health providers lose $802 million in uncompensated care each year, which the state subsidizes at least in part.