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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Thursday, March 25, 2010

    Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 252

    Well, they did it. Healthcare reform passed and has been signed into law. We all know it wasn't as good as we'd hoped. But it is still a HUGE improvement.

    Here is a rundown of what this reform WILL accomplish with a sense of WHEN the reforms kick in: (From The Gavel)

    IF YOU ARE A SMALL BUSINESSES OWNER:

    SMALL BUSINESS TAX CREDITS—Offers tax credits to small businesses to make employee coverage more affordable. Tax credits of up to 35 percent of premiums will be immediately available. Effective beginning for calendar year 2010. (Beginning in 2014, small business tax credits will cover 50 percent of premiums.)

    IF YOU ARE A SENIOR:

    BEGINS TO CLOSE THE MEDICARE PART D DONUT HOLE—Provides a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole in 2010. Effective for calendar year 2010. (Beginning in 2011, institutes a 50% discount on brand-name drugs in the donut hole; also completely closes the donut hole by 2020.)

    FREE PREVENTIVE CARE UNDER MEDICARE—Eliminates co-payments for preventive services and exempts preventive services from deductibles under the Medicare program. Effective beginning January 1, 2011.

    HELP FOR EARLY RETIREES—Creates a temporary re-insurance program (until the Exchanges are available) to help offset the costs of expensive health claims for employers that provide health benefits for retirees age 55-64. Effective 90 days after enactment.

    IF YOU HAVE PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE:

    NO DISCRIMINATION AGAINST CHILDREN WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS—Prohibits health plans from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Effective 6 months after enactment. (Beginning in 2014, this prohibition would apply to adults as well.)

    NO RESCISSIONS—Bans health plans from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Effective 6 months after enactment.

    NO LIFETIME LIMITS ON COVERAGE—Prohibits health plans from placing lifetime caps on coverage. Effective 6 months after enactment.

    NO RESTRICTIVE ANNUAL LIMITS ON COVERAGE—Tightly restricts new plans’ use of annual limits to ensure access to needed care. These tight restrictions will be defined by HHS. Effective 6 months after enactment. (Beginning in 2014, the use of any annual limits would be prohibited for all plans.)

    FREE PREVENTIVE CARE UNDER NEW PLANS—Requires new private plans to cover preventive services with no co-payments and with preventive services being exempt from deductibles. Effective 6 months after enactment.

    NEW, INDEPENDENT APPEALS PROCESS FOR NEW PLANS—Ensures consumers in new plans have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal decisions. Effective 6 months after enactment.

    MORE FOR YOUR PREMIUM DOLLAR—Requires plans to put more of your premiums into your care, and less into profits, CEO pay, etc. This medical loss ratio requires plans in the individual and small group market to spend 80 percent of premiums on medical services, and plans in the large group market to spend 85 percent. Insurers that don’t meet these thresholds must provide rebates to policyholders. Effective on January 1, 2011.

    NO DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SALARY—Prohibits new group health plans from establishing any eligibility rules for health care coverage that have the effect of discriminating in favor of higher wage employees. Effective 6 months after enactment.

    IF YOU DON’T HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE:

    IMMEDIATE HELP FOR THE UNINSURED WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS (INTERIM HIGH-RISK POOL)—Provides immediate access to insurance for Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition - through a temporary high-risk pool – until the Exchanges up and running in 2014. Effective 90 days after enactment. (Beginning in 2014, health plans are banned from discriminating against all people with pre-existing conditions, so high-risk pools would phase out).

    EXTENDING COVERAGE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE UP TO 26TH BIRTHDAY THROUGH PARENTS’ INSURANCE – Requires health plans to allow young people up to their 26th birthday to remain on their parents’ insurance policy, at the parents’ choice. Effective 6 months after enactment.

    GENERAL REFORMS:

    COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS—Increases funding for Community Health Centers to allow for nearly doubling the number of patients served over the next 5 years. Effective beginning in fiscal year 2010.

    MORE PRIMARY CARE DOCTORS—Provides new investment in training programs to increase the number of primary care doctors, nurses, and public health professionals. Effective beginning in fiscal year 2010.

    HEALTH INSURANCE CONSUMER ASSISTANCE—Provides aid to states to establish offices of health insurance consumer assistance to help consumers file complaints and appeals. Effective beginning in FY 2010.

    A NEW, VOLUNTARY, PUBLIC LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE PROGRAM—Creates a long-term care insurance program to be financed by voluntary payroll deductions to provide benefits to adults who become functionally disabled. Effective on January 1, 2011.

    And in 2014, once the exchanges have formed, more insurance reforms go into effect, including:

    NO DISCRIMINATION AGAINST ADULTS WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

    BAN ON HIGHER PREMIUMS FOR WOMEN

    PREMIUMS BASED ON AGE CAN ONLY VARY BY A MAXIMUM OF 3-TO-1 RATIO

    CAP ON OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES for private health plans

    It's a start.

    In honor of those Congressional Representatives who took a risk and voted for healthcare reform despite Republican attacks:



    The Obstructionist Republicans are saying they will repeal healthcare reform, because you know they are against saving American taxpayers money while saving American lives. Obama is challenging them come right out and try it:



    Meanwhile, Congressman Anthony Weiner is among the more than 10 Democratic Congressional Representatives who have gotten threats or attacks aimed at themselves, their families or their offices. I happen to know Weiner and can say he is an excellent speaker. Smart and liberal, so obviously a target for right wing fear and loathing. In Weiner's case it was an envelope with a white powder in it, a clear allusion to the fatal anthrax attacks that may or may not have been solved. Of course if the FBI's version of things is true, the anthrax killer is himself now dead, and so the chances of that white powder being anything but a harmless white powder are slim. But the right wing resorting to violence is disgusting, immoral and, let's remember, outright illegal. Hopefully they will be caught and punished. Why does the right hate Weiner so much? Well, here is a sample of his views on healthcare reform (from before many of the changes made to the Senate Bill). And here is Weiner taking on Bill O'Reilly and calling Bill an outright liar:



    Here is this week's newsletter:

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    I Declare the Celebrations Begin! Comeon and Party!

    A Congressman with Guts

    Right Wing Violence in America

    Brooklyn, NY Focus

    Manhattan, NY Focus

    Queens, NY Focus

    Bronx, NY Focus

    Suffolk County, NY Focus

    Rochester, NY Focus

    New York 19th District Focus: Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, and Westchester Counties

    NEW YORK STATE FOCUS

    Austin/Travis County, TX Focus

    Dallas County, TX Focus

    Houston/Harris County, TX Focus

    Texas 10th District Focus: Turn TX-10 Blue

    Texas 21st District Focus: Turn TX-21 Blue

    TEXAS FOCUS

    DEBRA BOWEN FOR CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE

    Silicon Valley Area, CA Focus

    San Diego, CA Focus

    Orange County, CA Focus

    California 11th District Focus: San Joaquin, Alameda and Santa Clara Counties

    CALIFORNIA FOCUS

    Sussex County, NJ Focus

    Passaic County, NJ Focus

    Warren County, NJ Focus

    NEW JERSEY FOCUS

    FLORIDA FOCUS

    Charlottesville/Albemarle County, VA Foucus

    Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania County, VA Focus

    Hanover County, VA Focus

    VIRGINIA FOCUS

    Georgia Focus: Regina Thomas for Congress (GA-12)

    Atlanta, GA Focus

    Fayette County, GA Focus

    Coweta County, GA Focus

    GEORGIA FOCUS

    MICHIGAN FOCUS

    Pennsylvania Focus: Lois Herr for Congress

    Lancaster Co. PA Focus

    PENNSYLVANIA FOCUS

    Illinois focus: Bill Foster on Board with Healthcare Reform

    Illinois Focus: Dan Seals for Congress (IL-10)

    ILLINOIS FOCUS

    Nevada Focus: Republican John Ensign Subpoenaed

    NEVADA FOCUS

    Michigan Focus: Bart Stupak vs. Catholic Nuns

    MICHIGAN FOCUS

    ARIZONA FOCUS

    COLORADO FOCUS

    WISCONSIN FOCUS

    IOWA FOCUS

    WASHINGTON STATE FOCUS

    NORTH CAROLINA FOCUS

    MINNESOTA FOCUS

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