Now that the debate is over, now that the bill has passed, there's still some confusion about just what the health care law does, what it does not do, and whether it's going to kill grandma or Sarah Palin's baby.
(Clue: it does not kill grandma or Palin's baby.)
First, if you want to know how it will effect *you*, there's a great tool over at the Washington Post that can help. You enter your status (employed, retired, etc), your family size, income bracket - and it'll show what's going to happen.
For everything else, here's a little breakdown.
As of today:
* Small Businesses get a tax cut, and can get reimbursed for up to 35% of the cost of health care premiums. This goes up to 50% in a few years.
* $11 billion over 5 years will be spent to build community health centers - this will provide access to health care resources for the most poor in the country. By spending this money now, this also helps make this a jobs bill.
* Seniors with gaps in their Medicare prescription plans now get a $250 check, and the gaps are going to be closed.
By July 2010:
* Have a pre-existing condition and can't afford to get on insurance? There's additional money to help you meet your premiums.
* Retiree health plans get new funding to lower premiums for those about to enter Medicare.
By September 2010:
* No health care plan may deny coverage to children for preexisting conditions. Have a child born with diabetes or some genetic disease? Insurance companies can no longer say "no" to accepting your child. Yeah, they can still charge more - but there's more.
* All insurance plans must pay for free preventative care. That bi-yearly trip to the doctor must now be paid for by your insurance companies. That will help people find problems before they become expensive emergencies.
* Have a kid in college? They can stay on your health care plan until they're 26. Now they can focus on getting an education instead of working for health care coverage.
* New appeals process for denied claims by an independent panel - no more "insurance company arbitration" panels that decide in favor of the insurance companies 99% of the time since they're paid by the insurance companies
* All new health care plans let you choose your primary care doctor.
* Women won't need to go to a general doctor before going to their OGB-YN - they can just go.
By January 1st, 2011:
* All insurance plans must pay 80-85 of their revenue on health care, not on stock payments, not on CEO payments - but on health care. If they spend more than that, then their customers get rebate checks. That's right - if the insurance CEO makes a big ass bonus, so do you.
This is without the exchanges, the subsidies that will go to poorer people. This is what happens *this year alone*.
And it's what the Republicans want to repeal. They want to say "Yeah, your kid should be denied coverage for a preexisting condition."
That whole bit about "government is going to get between you and your doctor"? This plan lays right out *you can pick whatever doctor you want, and the insurance company must pay them*.
If your insurance company decides to give a big stock benefit to the shareholders instead of paying for people's treatments, the Republicans want to say "Sure - go ahead and do that."
This is what the Republicans want to repeal. Now that you've seen what this bill provides - which parts do *you* want to repeal from this list?