HHS Launches New Consumer Focused Health Care Website

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today unveiled an innovative new on-line tool that will help consumers take control of their health care by connecting them to new information and resources that will help them access quality, affordable health care coverage.  Called for by the Affordable Care Act, HealthCare.gov is the first website to provide consumers with both public and private health coverage options tailored specifically for their needs in a single, easy-to-use tool. 

HealthCare.gov  is the first central database of health coverage options, combining information about public programs, from Medicare to the new Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan, with information from more than 1,000 private insurance plans.  Consumers can receive information about options specific to their life situation and local community.

In addition, the website will be a one-stop-shop for information about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as well as other health care resources.  The website will connect consumers to quality rankings for local health care providers as well as preventive services.

The Affordable Care Act’s New Patient’s Bill of Rights

On June 22, 2010 the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and Treasury issued regulations to implement a new Patient’s Bill of Rights under the Affordable Care Act – which will help children (and eventually all Americans) with pre-existing conditions gain coverage and keep it, protect all Americans’ choice of doctors and end lifetime limits on the care consumers may receive. These new protections apply to nearly all health insurance plans.

For the fact sheet on the acts New Patient’s Bill of Rights go to Healthreform.gov 

Discounted Prescription Drugs for Suffolk County Residents

The Suffolk SCRIPTS (Suffolk County Initiative to Provide Taxpayer Savings) Program allows Suffolk County residents to save an average of 20 percent off the retail price of their personal medications. While SCRIPTS is not an insurance plan in itself, this prescription discount card can help bridge the financial gap for all Suffolk County residents– even those with personal insurance plans.  Best of all, the Suffolk SCRIPTS card is free.

 The Suffolk SCRIPTS card is accepted at over 300 pharmacies within the County, at more than 57,000 pharmacies nationwide, and is available through mail service. It carries no age or income restrictions, and no limits on how often it can be used. You and your family may freely use this card at any time, even when your prescription is not covered by your personal insurance plan. Simply present the discount card at a participating retail pharmacy and start saving on many of your prescription drugs. To find out where to pick-up a card of your own, please call toll-free 1-877-321-2652.

New York and New Jersey Hospitals making the Grade

In March of 2010 HealthGrades released the 7th Annual Report on Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study. Four out of the five New York Hospitals honored are Long Island Hospitals.  These hospitals are Southampton Hospital, Saint Francis Hospital-Roslyn, John T. Mather Memorial Hospital and North Shore LIJ Huntington Hospital.  

The New Jersey Hospitals honored are Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Morristown Memorial Hospital, Ocean Medical Center and Our lady of Lourdes Medical Center. 

Hackensack University Medcial Center has received the honor of being named one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals in 2010. No other hospital in the tri-state has received this honor in 2010. Jersey Shore University Medical Center and Hackensack University have also received the Womens Health Excellence Award” for 2010.

Congratulations to all of our Long Island and New Jersey Hospitals!

About HealthGrades: Health Grades, Inc. (Nasdaq: HGRD) is the leading independent healthcare ratings organization, providing quality ratings, profiles and cost information on the nation’s hospitals, physicians, nursing homes and prescription drugs.

Health Care Reform Law Update

I have attached several documents that allow for you to understand in greater detail the major provisions of the law President Obama has signed as well as an overview of the changes that will occur when the Senate and House agree on provisions of the Reconciliation bill.

NEW HEALTH CARE LAW BASICS

SENATE BILL AND RECONCILIATION SUMMARY

Health Care Reform Passes Congress

On Sunday, March 21, 2010, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by a vote of 219 to 212. Following that vote, the House adopted H.R. 4782, the reconciliation package, which makes a number of changes to H.R. 3590, by a vote of 220 to 211. H.R. 3590 will now go to President Obama for his signature and enactment into law. H.R. 4782 will be sent to the Senate.

The rules of reconciliation require there to be twenty hours of Senate debate as well as consideration of amendments. Although the Senate Democratic Leadership and President Obama would like the Senate to complete action on the reconciliation package by the end of the week. Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (IL) has suggested that, although they have the 51 votes necessary to approve the bill, the Senate may not meet the weeks-end objective.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) has stated that Republicans plan to offer amendments on substance, with expected topics including medical liability, the individual mandate and the Medicare payment reductions. Republicans also will raise points of order against various provisions in the bill that may violate reconciliation rules. If the Senate adopts any changes to the reconciliation package, the measure will go back to the House for consideration, as such the Democratic Leadership is hoping to keep the bill “clean.”

Although the Senate expects to adopt the Reconciliation Bill, President Obama will first sign into law H.R. 3950, which includes the following provisions;

  • FSA Cap of $2,500 effective January 2011 and indexed to CPI
  • OTC limitation of medicines and drugs (i.e., to require a physician recommendation) effective January 2011
  • High-Cost Plan Excise Tax with thresholds set at $8,500 for individuals and $23,000 for families effective January 2013 and indexed to CPI+1 percentage point

Upon adoption of the Reconciliation Bill, the effective date of the required changes above will be extended.

Other provisions of the legislation include:

  • it bars health insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions — the ban takes effect for children six months after enactment, and for all others starting in 2014
  • within six months after enactment, it will prohibit health insurance companies from dropping people from coverage when they get sick;
  • it bans health insurance companies, within six months after enactment, from placing lifetime caps on coverage
  • it begins to close the Medicare Part D coverage gap for Medicare beneficiaries who have surpassed their prescription drug coverage limit
  • it requires individuals to carry insurance or pay a penalty that would be the greater of $750 or 2 percent of income by 2016
  • companies with 50 or more employees will be required to help offset the cost of insurance for their employees if taxpayers are footing the bill for those workers’ insurance;
  • it establishes 50 state-administered insurance marketplaces to allow small businesses and people without employer sponsored coverage to buy insurance that meets new federal standards; and
  • it expands Medicaid to cover everyone earning less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or $29,327 for a family of four

Stay tuned for changes as they happen over the next 4 years………….

Governor Patterson’s Budget Proposal Threatens NYS Hospitals

The Governor’s proposal would significantly increase the tax burden on hospitals, nursing homes, and home care providers at a time when they are already struggling to remain afloat. It would also cut an additional 20% from the indigent care pool, further weakening the already fragile health care safety net for New York’s most vulnerable populations. 

New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation—a public provider of an extraordinary volume of uncompensated care to low income, uninsured populations—stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars under the Governor’s plan, and, as a result, forecasts a deficit of $1 billion for its upcoming fiscal year.

To get specific information on how your local hospital will be impacted by these proposed changes go to http://helpyourhospital.org .  Please spread the word and share with your family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.  If you share this message with just ten people, together we can convince state legislators to reject Governor Paterson’s proposed health care provider taxes and cuts.

Thank you for taking the time to protect your community and support New York’s hospitals, nursing homes, and home health care providers.

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