Local News

Mar 24, 2010 1:52 AM by Ariel Wesler

Local impact of the historic healthcare bill

Some key changes to the nation's health care system will take place this year under the historic health care measure passed Sunday.

Dependent children can remain on their parents' health insurance plans until age 26.

Senior citizens would get more help paying for drugs in Medicare. The 4 million Medicare beneficiaries who hit the so-called "doughnut hole" in the program's drug plan will get a $250 rebate this year.

People with health problems that left them uninsurable could qualify for coverage through a federally subsidized insurance program expected to take effect within 90 days.

Other first year items include banning insurance companies from imposing lifetime limits on coverage and more government oversight on premium increases. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees and average wages of less than $50,000 could also qualify for a tax credit of up to 35 percent the cost of their premiums.

The major changes in the law, effecting tens of millions of people, don't kick in until at least 2014. Those include rules requiring insurers to accept all applicants, and an expansion of Medicaid programs. Eventually, nearly all Americans will be required to carry health insurance or face a fine.

Republicans are fighting to repeal the measure. They say the legislation will harm more Americans by raising government spending at a time when the nation is struggling with record deficits. We will have more information on the immediate impact of the health care reform bill tonight on KSBY News at 5 and 6.

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