After all of the flying bricks, fanatical protests and frenzied tea parties, the controversial health care reform bill passed. It has been 12 days since the bill passed, and I have yet to see any hammers and sickles or murals of Obama in military garb painted on City Hall downtown. I’m actually very interested to see all of the prophetic words spoken during the creation of the bill challenged by the results of the new programs implemented by the health care reform bill.
Indeed, I have heard so much about what this bill might create in the distant future that I lost sight of what the programs and reforms actually were. Not surprisingly, I discovered that the reforms are not as radical as I was made to fear. Hasn’t that always been the case in the history of the United States? We tend to fear more than we should.
Beginning in six months, health insurance companies will no longer be able to deny children insurance based on pre-existing conditions, nor can they drop people from coverage when they get sick; in 2014, health insurance companies will no longer be able to deny any person insurance based on pre-existing conditions. Also, insurance companies must allow parents to keep their children on their insurance until the child turns 26. This will directly affect a significant portion of the Cal Poly campus.
There are other reforms that are more controversial, of course. If an employee of a large business buys into the federal insurance exchange, the bill then requires large businesses to offer employees health coverage or face a fine of $2,000 per employer. However, the bill also provides tax incentives to all employers, making the offer of coverage affordable.
There is also an individual mandate, which requires individuals to purchase health insurance, whether from the government or from a private provider. However, a person is free to keep their private insurance, or they may choose to buy into the exchange at a significantly reduced cost.
The portion of the health care reform bill that will affect you and me the most, perhaps, has nothing to do with health care reform. In a move hailed as the most significant federal reform to education since No Child Left Behind, Democratic legislators also added college aid reform to the health care reform bill, which provides significant relief and protection to us starving college students.
As a result of the reform bill, private lenders (formerly the primary loan providers) will be eliminated from the process. The simple elimination of the private sector in this process will eliminate $36 billion in waste. President Obama and Democratic legislators have chosen to redirect the $36 billion savings into new Pell Grant funding, which secures the necessary future of the Pell Grant.
They have also reformed the way we repay our student loans. Beginning in 2014, those of us who had to take out loans to attend college will only be required to devote 10 percent of our monthly income to loan payments, and after making payments on our loans faithfully for 20 years, the debt will be forgiven.
See how much Obama cares?