White House: As one year anniversary of health reform law approaches, White House report outlines benefits for Wisconsin

As the Obama Administration marks the one-year anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the White House today issued a report highlighting the benefits of health reform for Wisconsin residents. Signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act has given Wisconsin residents more freedom and control over their health care choices.

The Affordable Care Act is:

Reducing costs for seniors and strengthening Medicare.

More than 64,041 Wisconsin residents who hit the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole” received $250 tax-free rebates, and will receive a 50% discount on brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole this year. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole completely. And nearly all 44 million beneficiaries who have Medicare, including 836,000 in Wisconsin, can now receive free preventive services – like mammograms and colonoscopies – as well as a free annual wellness visit from their doctor

Offering new coverage options.

Insurance companies are now required to allow parents to keep their children up to age 26 without job-based coverage on their insurance plans. An estimated 13,600 young adults in Wisconsin could gain insurance coverage as a result of the law. Additionally, most insurance companies are now banned from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition. An estimated 310,000 kids with a pre-existing condition in Wisconsin will be protected because of this provision.

Lowering costs for small businesses.

The law provides $40 billion of tax credits to up to 4 million small businesses, including up to 88,970 in Wisconsin to help offset the costs of purchasing coverage for their employees and make premiums more affordable.

Improving the quality of coverage.

All Americans with insurance are now free from worrying about losing their insurance due to a mistake on an application, or having it capped unexpectedly if someone is in an accident or becomes sick. The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014. This will protect 3.6 million million Wisconsin residents with private insurance coverage from these limits.

Providing flexibility and resources to States.

The Affordable Care Act also gives States the flexibility and resources they need to implement the law in the way that works for them. Under the law, States have received millions of dollars in Federal support for their work to hold down insurance premiums, build competitive insurance marketplaces, provide insurance to early retirees, and strengthen their public health and prevention efforts. So far, Wisconsin has received $76.1 million from the Affordable Care Act. Grants to Wisconsin include:

* $637,100 to support a consumer assistance program

* $1 million to plan for a Health Insurance Exchange

* $38 million to develop an “Early Innovator” Exchange IT model

* $1 million to crack down on unreasonable insurance premium increases

* $5.5 million to support capital development in community health centers

* $7.2 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund

* $13.1 million in Therapeutic Discovery Project Program Tax Credits and Grants

* $794,509 for Medicare improvements for patients and providers

* $7.3 million for demonstration projects to address health professions workforce needs

* $472,707 for aging and disability resource centers

* $250,000 for Nursing and Home Health Aides Training Programs

* $1.2 million for Maternal, Infant and Childhood Home Visiting

To read the complete report, visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/OneYearLaterWI.pdf.