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Health Reform Plan – What's the Immediate WA Impact?

March 26, 2010

SEATTLE - President Obama spent Thursday promoting the benefits of the nation's new health care reform plan as Congress worked on the final details of reconciliation. For almost 200,000 people in Washington State, the new plan will mean help paying for prescription drugs, according to advocates for seniors. They say there will also be affordable access to coverage for nearly a million people in the state who currently have no health insurance.

Ingrid McDonald, advocacy director for AARP-Washington, says the plan provides some immediate relief to hundreds of thousands of seniors and others on Medicaid who fall into the so-called doughnut hole in prescription drug coverage.

"Twenty-two percent of our Medicare beneficiaries in the state, almost 200,000 people, fall into this gap in coverage each year. In 2010, people who fall into the doughnut hole will receive an immediate one-time check for $250."

Coverage will increase so that, eventually, the doughnut hole will be closed, says McDonald. As for the rest of the plan, Republicans identified technical flaws in the measure that required one final round of votes in the House and Senate to repair. Pres. Obama told a rally in Iowa that costs will come down for families and businesses under the plan, which he says will reduce the national deficit by $130 billion over the next decade.

130,000 uninsured people in Washington State between the ages of 50 and 64, who are too young for Medicaid, will gain access to coverage, according to AARP. Pre-existing conditions will also be addressed, McDonald adds.

"Under this bill, there is going to be an end to discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, which impacts a lot of people in this age range. Right away, if anyone, regardless of age, can't get insurance because of a pre-existing condition, they will have access to immediate temporary coverage."

The plan also brings relief to the nearly one million people in Washington State of all ages who have no insurance, They will be able to purchase affordable coverage through state-based health insurance exchanges.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - WA