Health Care Reform Prepares for Attacks as Republicans Take the House

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed legislation that overhauled America’s health care system. The new law, which is also known as the Affordable Care Act, enacts comprehensive health insurance reform that will be rolled out in the United States over the next four years with most of the major changes taking place by 2014.

Health care reform guarantees access to medical insurance for tens of millions of Americans who previously had no health insurance. But, passing the new law was not without bumps along the road; not a single Republican member of Congress voted for the final version of the health care bill. Many Republicans campaigned on promises to repeal portions the bill.

Now that the Republicans have taken back control of the House of Representatives this past November, attacking President Obama’s health care plan has quickly moved to the top of their agenda. Below is a look at how the country got its new health care reform.

Health Care Reform Time Line

• The Senate introduced the first version on September 17, 2009, skipping the normal requirement to be introduced by the House by attaching it to an unrelated bill.

• 506 amendments were proposed throughout the Fall 2009.

• The House passed the bill on October 8, 2009 by a roll call vote with 219 Ayes and 212 Nays.

• The Senate passed the bill on December 24, 2009 by a roll call vote with 60 Ayes, 39 Nays, and one abstaining.

• President Obama signed the bill into law on March 23, 2010.

• Almost two dozen federal lawsuits have been filed trying to block portions of the bill.

• The U.S. Supreme Court insinuates it might make a ruling if needed.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the government’s net spending would increase by approximately $35 billion between 2010 and 2019. These estimates are the cost of covering all newly eligible Medicaid enrollees for all states if paid by the federal government. The Republicans insinuate that the Federal deficit will increase by approximately $230 billion over the next ten years because of costs associated with the health insurance reform while still leaving 32 million Americans uninsured.

It will Take Years to Implement Health Care Reform

Most of the largest impacting and controversial elements of the new law will not take effect for several years as portions of the health care reform bill are phased into effect. The maximum contribution limits for a flexible spending account will drop to $2,500 per year and become tied to inflation in 2013.

Mandatory health insurance coverage will not take effect until 2014, but those who cannot afford the mandatory health insurance coverage will be fined, or taxed as some phrase it, $95 per year or 1% of their taxable income. The fine rises to $325 per year or 2 percent of taxable income in 2015, and in 2016, the rates increase to $695 or 2.5 percent of income. The health insurance reform will also not allow insurance providers to exclude pre-existing conditions when setting rates or deciding who to insure starting in 2014.

Health Care Reform is in Limbo with New Republican Politicians

The new Republican politicians have made it clear that the health care reform bill is high on their list of targets as Congress reconvenes this year. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that many Americans would pay more for private health insurance if the law was to be repealed by the new Congress. Whether the bill is repealed, modified, or left as is, there is no getting around the fact that the health care reform bill will increase the cost of health care insurance for many while increasing coverage for many below the poverty line.

Hank Coleman is the founder of Own The Dollar and several other financial websites. He is a freelance writer, entrepreneur, and professional in the government sector. Hank holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, a Master’s in Finance, and is currently studying for his Certified Financial Planning (CFP) credentials. Be sure to follow him on Twitter.