Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Health Care and the Stimulus Package

The recently passed financial stimulus includes several measures that will increase federal funding for health care in the United States. Most notably, COBRA coverage for the laid off will be subsidized by 65% for nine months, which will help 7 million retain health insurance at a cost of almost $25 billion.

Other provisions in the stimulus package include:

  • Investments in health care information technology infrastructure to encourage greater adoption of electronic health records; this will include Medicaid and Medicare incentives. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this will save the government and health care industry over $12 billion. ($19 billion cost)
  • Funding for training programs to encourage doctors to practice in under-served locations ($500 million)
  • Community Health Centers in rural and urban areas that are under-served by doctors and serve many uninsured individuals will also receive funding ($500 million)
  • An unknown amount of funding will go to several Cabinet departments (including the Centers for Disease Control, Veteran's Health Administration, Indian Health Service, Department of Defense, and the National Institutes of Health) in order to build and repaid health care facilities, invest in preventative health care, and research health care strategies.
Many Democrats have been calling for health care reform, and these items might be part of that process.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Obama Wants to Provide Federal Health Insurance Assistant to Laid-Off Workers

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan proposed by President-Elect Barack Obama includes as an economic jump-start includes a possible two-year expansion of Medicaid, as well as subsidies for employers who provide continued coverage for retired and laid off workers. These proposed measures were outlined in the Insurance and Financial Advisor.

Obama, along with Congressional Democrats, wants to expand federal insurance assistance by opening Medicaid enrollment to individuals laid off from jobs that didn't provide health insurance coverage.

In addition, they are proposing that employers be subsidized for the mandated COBRA coverage they must provide to former employees and their dependents.

These policies are intended solely as a temporary fix to get the U.S. out of the current recession, and would expire in two years if enacted. Obama is currently in talks with congressional leaders regarding his economic stimulus plan, prior to his inaguration on January 20th.

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