Posts Tagged ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’

Get Answers to Your Questions about the New Health Reform Law

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

If you’re like most Americans, you have questions about how the new health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, will affect you and your family. A number of new protections and reforms take effect on September 23rd, the six-month anniversary of the law. The American Heart Association has launched a series of brief videos in which AHA experts will answer some of the most common questions posed by patients and consumers about the new law. To view these videos, visit http://www.heartsforhealthcare.org/.

It’s important that all consumers know about the new protections afforded to them in their dealings with their insurance companies. The following insurance reforms are among those that take effect starting with health insurance plan years beginning on or after September 23rd (for many Americans, this will be January 1, 2011):

  • Children under age 19 can no longer be denied insurance coverage because they have a preexisting medical condition;
  • Health insurance plans can no longer cancel coverage when an individual becomes sick (except in rare cases of fraud);
  • Young adults without their own employer-provided health insurance are able to stay on their parents’ policy until age 26;
  • Lifetime caps on insurance coverage are prohibited;
  • Annual dollar limits on coverage are being phased out, beginning this year. For plan years beginning after September 23rd, 2010, annual dollar limits lower than $750,000 will be prohibited;
  • New private health plans and some existing health plans are required to cover evidence-based preventive screenings and services at no additional cost to the consumer;
  • New private health plans and some existing plans are prohibited from requiring individuals to get prior approval before seeking emergency care at a hospital outside of their plan’s network and they can no longer charge higher co-pays or deductibles for emergency care received at an out-of-network hospital; and
  • New Preexisting Condition Insurance Plans are available in every state to provide health insurance to individuals who have a preexisting medical condition and have been uninsured for at least six months.

The new videos launched by the American Heart Association provide more information about many of these new provisions of the law. In the videos, AHA CEO Nancy Brown, AHA President Dr. Ralph Sacco, AHA Past President Dr. Clyde Yancy, and AHA Chief Science Officer Dr. Rose Marie Robertson answer questions about these new protections. To watch the videos, visit http://www.heartsforhealthcare.org/.

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Happy Anniversary to Medicare

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Forty-five years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law, establishing the foundation for today’s Medicare, which provides more than 44 million seniors and people with disabilities with guaranteed health care benefits and higher quality care than ever before.

“The signing of Medicare forged a promise with older Americans — that those who have contributed a lifetime to our national life and economy can enjoy their golden years with peace of mind and the security of reliable medical insurance,” wrote President Obama in a Presidential proclamation issued today, which proclaims July 30, 2010 as the 45th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid.

This year’s passage of the Affordable Care Act represents another step forward for the Medicare program. The law ensures that Medicare beneficiaries will continue to receive their guaranteed benefits and will provide new benefits and lower costs, including closing the prescription drug coverage gap, eliminating co-pays and cost-sharing for most preventive screenings and providing greater coordination of care among providers.

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New Preventive Benefits Coming Soon

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

If all Americans took the recommended steps to improve their cardiovascular health, the number of heart attacks could be cut by two-thirds and the number of strokes by a third. The American Heart Association encourages individuals to learn about Life’s Simple 7 steps to improve their heart health, http://mylifecheck.heart.org/. But far too few individuals benefit from access to screening tests or counseling on adopting healthy behaviors. The good news is that the Affordable Care Act requires new private health insurance plans and Medicare to provide recommended preventive services for free, beginning soon.

It’s never too late to make better choices for health, and the American Heart Association has adopted a challenging new goal of improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% by 2020. The first step to improving your health is to know your risk, and the new preventive benefits made available by the Affordable Care Act will help ensure that more Americans have access to the screening and counseling they need to do just that. Among the screening tests and preventive services that will be required to be covered with no co-pays, co-insurance, or deductibles are the following services aimed at preventing heart disease and stroke:

-Blood pressure screening;
-Tests to screen for high cholesterol and diabetes;
-Screening for obesity and counseling from health professionals to promote sustained weight loss;
-Counseling on the use of daily aspirin;
-Tobacco cessation interventions, such as counseling or medication to help individuals quit.

The new rules implementing these provisions of the Affordable Care Act were issued in July by the Obama Administration. For those covered by new health plans, these new benefits will start with plan years beginning after September 23, 2010 (for many Americans, this will mean that this new benefit will begin January 1, 2011). For Medicare beneficiaries, free coverage of these preventive benefits will begin January 1, 2011. Also beginning on January 1, 2011, Medicare will cover an annual, individually tailored wellness visit for Medicare beneficiaries.

To learn more about these new preventive benefits, visit http://www.healthcare.gov/law/about/provisions/services/index.html.

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New Health Insurance Resources Launch July 1st

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Have you or a loved one had a heart attack, stroke, diabetes, or other pre-existing medical condition and been without health insurance coverage for at least six months? If so, you may be eligible for a new insurance program, called Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans, that was created by the new health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, and begins in many states starting July 1st. The exact terms and conditions of the coverage will vary depending on which state you live in. Enrollment in about half the states begins July 1st, with the remaining states beginning enrolling people in their plans later this summer.www.healthcare.gov. The new site is aimed at helping consumers navigate the maze of health care coverage options, both private and public, and better understand what the new health reform law means for them.

Although these new plans may not be a feasible option for everyone, they could be a more affordable insurance option for individuals who’ve had difficulty getting coverage in the individual insurance market because of their medical condition. These plans are intended to provide transitional coverage to those who are currently uninsured until January 2014, when additional insurance options and assistance with paying premiums will be made available through state-based health insurance marketplaces called exchanges.

To help you learn more about these new Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans or other insurance options that may be available to you, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched a new website,

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AHA Past President Gardner attends White House Ceremony

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

AHA Immediate Past-President Timothy Gardner, M.D. stood up for heart disease and stroke patients young and old at the White House on Tuesday. The ceremony highlighted important regulations to implement provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that will help protect Americans from medical bankruptcy.

“These regulations will provide needed relief to families and individuals who have to make heart-wrenching decisions as they consider treatment options for life-threatening conditions,” said Gardner. “These insurance reforms will remove barriers that prevented some children and adults with heart disease, stroke and other chronic illnesses from getting affordable, quality care.”

Some of the highlights of the new regulations:

  • No Discrimination against Children with Pre-Existing Conditions.
  • Eliminating Lifetime Limits on Insurance Coverage- Prohibits insurers from imposing lifetime limits on benefits.
  • Regulating Use of Annual Limits on Insurance Coverage
  • No More Insurance Cancellations- Insurers can no longer cancel a person’s coverage because they become sick.

These new consumer protections will help ensure that health coverage is more affordable and available for heart disease and stroke patients.

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What Does Health Care Reform Mean for Heart Disease and Stroke Patients?

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010
Completion of Congress’ action on the health care reform bill brings with it important improvements to the health care system that the American Heart Association advocated for to help make health care coverage more affordable and accessible, improve the quality of care, and place a greater emphasis on prevention and wellness.
With the passage of reform, patients with pre-existing conditions will no longer be denied coverage (beginning this year for kids and in 2014 for adults), lifetime caps placed on coverage will be eliminated and annual caps will be curtailed starting this year, and preventive care will now be available with no co-pays or deductibles for seniors and consumers in new health insurance plans. Additionally, families will be able to make healthier choices about the meals they select at most restaurants because of the calorie information that will be added to menus. The new law also includes incentives to improve the quality of care patients receive, by rewarding value over volume and improving coordination and teamwork among health care professionals. To learn more about what reform means to patients with heart disease and stroke, please visit our website at www.americanheart.org/accesstocare.
While the new law is not perfect, the American Heart Association supported passage of the final package because it will make significant progress towards improving affordability and accessibility of care for patients and their families. The status quo is simply untenable for too many Americans and unsustainable for all of us.
Over the upcoming months and likely years, the American Heart Association will work with Congress, the Administration and our patient advocacy partners to monitor the implementation of these provisions and to build upon this progress as we continue to advocate to ensure the health care system meets the needs of all heart disease and stroke patients.
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Use the Recess to Say “Thank You” for Health Care Reform

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Last week, as Congress finished its work on the final health care reform package, the American Heart Association ran an advertisement in the Capitol Hill publication, Congress Daily to thank Members for their action, and their votes, on behalf of patients everywhere.

We need your help to make sure legislators who supported health care reform saw the ad and got our message of thanks.

Starting today, Members will be home for a two-week in-district work period, or recess. This means your legislators won’t be holed up in Washington, but instead will be out and about in your community and much more accessible. It’s a perfect time to approach them and thank them for voting in favor of comprehensive health care reform!

We’re asking our You’re the Cure advocates who live in the state or a district of a Member who voted “Yes” for reform, to do a “drop-by” to your legislator’s office and deliver a signed copy of the ad. It’s simple! Just follow the steps below:

1. Find out how your Representative and Senators voted.

2. Visit your legislator’s website to find the address of the district office that is closest to you.

3. Print off a copy of the ad above and add your signature and address to the bottom.

4. Drop-off the signed copy of the ad to your legislator’s office during the recess period (March 29th-April 9th). You don’t need an appointment – just stop by. If your Member is there, ask if you can offer your thanks in person. If not, you can leave the ad with one of the staff.

5. Let us know you completed the drop-by. Click here to record your action!

If you can’t make it in person, you can also fax your signed copy of our ad to their office by finding the fax number on their website.

Thanks for all that you do!

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This is It: House Vote on Health Care Reform Imminent

Friday, March 19th, 2010
After months of debate, the House of Representatives will vote in a few days to either pass health care reform, or carry on with the status quo of a broken health care system — and the vote is expected to be extremely close.
Passage of the bill in the House will require 216 votes, and we’ll need to keep the pressure on for every one of those votes until the gavel falls on the final roll call. It’s time for You’re the Cure advocates, like you, to take a stand for patients and speak up now! If you’ve been meaning to take action on health care reform, but haven’t found the time – that time is now!
Tell your Representative to vote “YES” on the final health care reform package.


 
Watch Health Care Reform Patient Stories

We can’t allow the status quo to continue. For patients, it means an estimated 20 million Americans becoming uninsured over the next decade, tens of thousands of Americans losing their lives because they can’t afford the care they need, rising health care costs, and Medicare’s trust fund drying up. Quite simply, failure to pass health care reform is not an option.
The final health care legislation isn’t perfect, but it makes significant improvements to our current health care system that we can build on for years to come, such as:
  • Expanding health insurance coverage to an additional 32 million Americans

  • Ensuring patients with pre-existing medical conditions will no longer be denied or dropped from coverage.
  • Eliminating lifetime and annual caps on essential medical services.
  • Making coverage more affordable for millions of American families and small businesses by pooling them together to benefit from group rates
  • Promoting prevention by requiring private health plans and Medicare to provide coverage for preventive services
Health care reform is critical to reducing death and disability from cardiovascular disease and helping all Americans live healthier lives. So, at this truly historic moment, we ask you to come together with other patient advocates and demand better than the status quo.
Send your email today to urge your Representative stand with patients by voting “YES”.
After you take action, please be sure to tell your friends or post a link to our advocacy on your Facebook, Twitter or other social networking profiles.
Thank you for speaking up for progress and being a part of You’re the Cure!
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The State of Health Reform

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Last night, President Obama appealed to members of Congress not to walk away from health care reform and the millions of Americans who are counting on it. We, too, call on Congress to act together to quickly pass meaningful, comprehensive health reform this year. Heart disease and stroke patients can’t afford to wait. Just watch these stories from patient advocates sharing their personal experience with the nation’s healthcare system.

Despite what you might be hearing in the media, health care reform is not dead, and neither is the American Heart Association’s work on it. We need your help to keep the pressure on Congress to enact meaningful, comprehensive reform. Health care reform won’t happen overnight, but with the voice of You’re the Cure advocates we can send a clear message to Congress that failure is not an option. In fact there is something you can do right now. We want to share the powerful stories of heart and stroke advocates with lawmakers, so please take action and send your lawmakers the latest You’re the Cure video today.

You can read the AHA CEO’s statement to the press on the President’s State of the Union address on our website.

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Senate Passes Health Care Reform Legislation!

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Statement from AHA CEO Nancy Brown on Senate Passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
December 24, 2009

After decades of delays, heart disease and stroke patients can look forward to meaningful reforms in our health care system with today’s historic vote in the Senate for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. We are gratified the Senate has given Americans a holiday to remember with approval of a bill which, while still imperfect, will benefit patients and their families as they struggle to cover the cost of medical care. Although much more work lies ahead to fix our broken health care system and ensure quality, affordable care for all Americans, this bill lays the groundwork to expand coverage to the uninsured, place an increased emphasis on preventing disease and improve the delivery of care – all measures that will enable us to reduce soaring health care costs and relieve the stress and anxiety of patients who have run out of options in securing quality and affordable health care.

Senate passage of a health care reform bill is an important and necessary milestone; however, we recognize there are more hurdles to overcome in the weeks ahead. Differences between the House and Senate bills must be ironed out in order to complete this monumental effort and produce the strongest bill possible for meeting the needs of heart disease and stroke patients. The American Heart Association looks forward to working with House and Senate leaders to improve the final bill and see health care reform over the finish line early in the new year.

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