NEW BENEFITS OF HEALTH REFORM LAW IN EFFECT SEPT 23
New Benefits Will Protect Health Care Consumers, Increase Access, Improve Quality and Lower Costs for Young Adults, Kids, and People with Pre-Existing Conditions
CHICAGO - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), HHS Regional Director Cristal Thomas, and Executive Director Bob Robinson from the Hemophilia Foundation of Illinois joined Executive Director Jim Duffett of the Campaign for Better Health Care today for a telebriefing to discuss the new set of benefits rolling out on Thursday from the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care health reform law.  Also on the call was CBHC member Tim Fraas of Elgin, who currently faces a lifetime benefit cap following a heart transplant.
The new health reform law will save lives.  Without it, an estimated 9,400 Illinoisans would have died prematurely due to a lack of health coverage over the next decade.  Not any more.  With the provisions of the new law, 1,163,000 uninsured Illinoisans will gain insurance coverage by 2019.
On September 23, another set of benefits of the new health reform law takes effect.  "The reforms we passed in the groundbreaking health care bill have begun to take effect - curbing insurance company abuses that prevent people from getting the healthcare they need.  On Thursday, we are going to start seeing even more tangible benefits from this bill," said Senator Durbin.  "The provisions taking effect will give parents peace of mind by preventing insurance companies from denying children coverage because of pre-existing conditions.  The provisions will also ensure that patients aren't dropped from their insurance plan when they get sick and will lower health care costs by emphasizing prevention and healthy lifestyles."
"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we have begun to create a more competitive, consumer-friendly healthcare marketplace, to crack down on the worst insurance company practices, and to provide real benefits to the people of Illinois," said Director Thomas. Bob Robinson of HFI added, "Starting Thursday, insurance companies can no longer search through your file when you get sick to find some reason to drop you or exclude you for a pre-existing condition. And there will be no more annual or lifetime limits on the amount an insurance company will pay for your care.  These benefits are a huge step forward for our members and for all Americans."
Tim Fraas, a CBHC member, shared his personal health care story.  "In August 2008, at age 51, my cardiologist informed me that I would need a heart transplant. God blessed me with a donor heart October 27, 2008. I was released to return to my job June 1st 2009, but in July I was let go from work.  The official line was lack of work, but I was told that it was mostly due to my health issues.  Luckily, I have great insurance through my wife's employer.  But even with good insurance we are over $10,000 in debt to the hospital, and we spend over $200 a month on my medications. Without insurance it would be over $1900.  It is a real struggle.  Also, with ongoing checkups and expensive medications, I am nearing my lifetime benefit cap.  Once I reach the cap, I am out of insurance.  I consider myself richly blessed, but it is time to reign in the insurance companies and lower costs, and this law does that."
Eliminating insurance company denials based on pre-existing conditions is just one of the new benefits of the health care law rolling out on September 23.  On that day, new consumer protections go into effect prohibiting insurance companies from taking your coverage away when you get sick and need it most, and eliminating lifetime caps.   The new provisions will also improve quality and lower costs by requiring all new plans to cover certain preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance.
Jim Duffett, Executive Director of the Campaign for Better Health Care, said,"Health care is the key to economic security and opportunity.  The passage of the recent reform legislation means hundreds of thousands of Illinois' hard working families and small businesses can now enjoy the peace of mind and security that comes from knowing that no matter what happens, they and their families will be able to access the health care they need."
NOTE:  An audio recording of the telebriefing will be available starting Thursday, Sept. 23, in the Audio Archive of the Campaign for Better Health Care's website.
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About the Campaign for Better Health Care
We believe that accessible, affordable, quality health care is a basic human right for all people.  The Campaign for Better Health Care is the state's largest coalition representing over 300 diverse organizations, organizing to help create and advocate for an accessible, quality health care system for all.  For more information, visit www.cbhconline.org.

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