Report: Health Insurance Reform Would Benefit Eastern N.C.

Nov 2, 2009
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – A report by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce found that families, small business and seniors in Congressman G. K. Butterfield’s district would benefit greatly from health insurance reform.
 
Using data from the U.S. Census, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the House Committee on Ways and Means, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce staff analyzed the how the provisions of the Affordable Health Care for Americans Act would affect the people in each legislative district across the country. The committee provided a two-page report of its findings for each congressional district. The reports were release today and the full report on Butterfield’s district can be found at: https:/butterfield.house.gov
 
“Our health care market is in crisis – crippling costs, rising uncertainty and a lack of access for far too many Americans,” Butterfield said. “We need immediate reforms that provide a more secure and affordable health care system that focus on patients and their doctors.”
 
The Affordable Health Care for America Act, unveiled last week, blends and updates the three versions of previous bills passed by House committees in July. It embodies President Obama’s key goals for health reform – it would slow the growth in out-of-control costs, introduce competition into the health care marketplace to keep coverage affordable and insurers honest, protect people’s choices of doctors and health plans, and assure Americans access to quality, stable, and affordable health care.
 
The legislation will ensure that 96 percent of Americans will be covered by a quality, affordable health plan. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the cost of expanding coverage at $894 billion, consistent with the $900 billion coverage mark laid out by President Obama. According to the CBO estimates, the bill reduces the federal deficit by at least $30 billion over the next 10 years.
 
Butterfield said the bill could come to a vote in the House as soon as Friday after a long and deliberative process. To date, the House has held about 100 hearings on health care since 2007, and House members have held nearly 3,000 health care events across the country, including Butterfield’s health care town hall meeting held this past August in Rocky Mount, N.C. Additionally, three House committees have spent 160 hours on hearings and markups of health care legislation.
 
According to the report, about 49% of the district’s population – 295,000 residents – have health care coverage from their employer. Under the legislation, individuals and families with employer-based coverage can keep the health insurance coverage they have now, and enjoy improvements.
 
Butterfield explained that as a result of the insurance reforms in the bill, there will be no co-pays or deductibles for preventive care; no more rate increases or coverage denials for pre-existing conditions, gender, or occupation; and guaranteed oral, vision, and hearing benefits for children. The analysis found there are 11,600 individuals in the district who have pre-existing medical conditions that could prevent them from buying insurance.
 
The analysis found there were 900 health care-related bankruptcies in the district in 2008, caused primarily by the health care costs not covered by insurance. The bill caps annual out-of-pocket costs at $5,000 for singles and $10,000 for families and eliminates lifetime limits on insurance coverage, ensuring that no citizen will have to face financial ruin because of high health care costs.

The report also found that there are 115,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the district. The health care reform legislation improves Medicare by providing free preventive and wellness care, improving primary and coordinated care, improving nursing home quality, and strengthening the Medicare Trust Fund.

Additionally, each year, 7,300 seniors in the district hit the donut hole and are forced to pay their full drug costs, despite having Part D drug coverage. Butterfield pointed out that the legislation will provide these seniors with immediate relief, covering the first $500 of donut hole costs in 2010, cutting brand-name drug costs in the donut hole by 50%, and completely eliminating the donut hole by 2019.

Under the legislation, businesses with up to 100 employees will be able to join the health insurance exchange, benefitting from group rates and a greater choice of insurers. The report found there are 13,000 small businesses in the district that will be able to join the health insurance exchange.

Small businesses with 25 employees or less and average wages of less than $40,000 will qualify for tax credits of up to 50% of the costs of providing health insurance. The report found there are about 11,600 small businesses in the district that could qualify for credits.

The report found there are 96,000 uninsured individuals in the district – 19% of the district residents under age 65. The CBO estimates that nationwide, 96% of all Americans will have insurance coverage when the bill takes effect. If this benchmark is reached in the district, 65,000 people who currently do not have health insurance will receive coverage.
 
Under the legislation, those who do not receive health care coverage through their employer will be able to purchase coverage at group rates through a health insurance exchange. Individuals and families with an income of up to four times the federal poverty level — an income of up to $88,000 for a family of four — will receive affordability credits to help cover the cost of coverage. According to the report, there are 193,000 households in the district that could qualify for these affordability credits if they need to purchase their own coverage.
 
The cost of health care reform under the legislation would be paid for through eliminating waste, fraud, abuse and excessive profits for private insurers in Medicare and Medicaid and through a surcharge on the income of the top 0.3% wealthiest individuals. According to the report, this surcharge will affect only 240 households in the district. The surcharge will not affect 99.91% of taxpayers in the district.