Just when the midterm elections are heating up in September, key provisions will go into effect.
Senior citizens who fall into the “donut hole” in the Medicare prescription drug program would receive a $250 rebate, if the Senate passes the package of fixes this week.
People who get sick will no longer be vulnerable to losing their coverage, insurers will be barred from refusing to cover children with pre-existing conditions, and young adults up to age 26 will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance plan. Uninsured adults with a pre-existing condition will be able to secure coverage through a new program that expires once the exchanges begin in 2014.
And some small businesses will receive tax credits to help provide coverage for workers.
In 2011, lower-profile changes will kick in, including higher Medicare reimbursement rates for primary care physicians and free wellness exams for Medicare beneficiaries. The tax on the pharmaceutical industry will also start in 2011 — earlier than for other industries — but it will come as the bill aims to close the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole.