Understanding the ACA

Health care and related issues will continue playing an important role in future elections. This last election many fine Kansas Democratic candidates were attacked for supporting Obamacare (whether they did or not.)

That is why it is imperative that we start a conversation about health care now, before distortions and misinformation are distributed to sway voters in 2014. The first step is to understand what exactly is in the Affordable Care Act. Misinformation about what the Act provides needs to be corrected now before it sinks in permanently.

I will be sending you communications from time to time to discuss the issues which will come up as the ACA starts being implemented in 2012 and 2013 with full implementation in 2014.
First, here is some of what the Affordable Care Act (ACA) actually does and does not do.

  • Guarantees that Medicare benefits will not be cut. 
  • Covers preventative care measures such as wellness exams and immunizations. 
  • By 2020 the burdensome doughnut hole will be eliminated
  • Adult children may remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26.

These measures are designed to get Kansans on a path of health improvement and maintenance. Additionally, over the long term there will be less cost to the health system.

Some Kansans are getting health coverage through Medicare Advantage. Providers in this program have had additional financial incentives in their reimbursement rates. In the future the program will continue, but the reimbursement will be brought into line with other Medicare programs.

It is unlikely that health care premiums will be driven up. Kansans have the power to question unreasonable rates. ACA provides that 80% to 85% of premiums collected be spent on medical costs. This provision is already paying off. During August alone, $1.1 billion in rebates were mailed to 12.8 million Americans. Cost savings to individuals is already underway.

Two issues, KanCare and the Health Insurance Exchanges mandated by the ACA will certainly be discussed in this session of the legislature. I will try to provide more information on these in the future.

Joan Wagnon

(with thanks to Dr. Robert H. Harder, former Secretary of SRS for providing the information.)

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