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Senate Blocks Health Care Law Repeal

Yesterday, the Senate voted along party lines to block the Patients’ Rights Repeal Act, with all 47 Republicans voting for the bill, 51 Democrats voting against it, and two Democrats not voting. Since the bill failed to achieve the necessary 60 votes to pass, it is considered dead in Congress.

On January 19, the House voted 245 to 189 in favor of the Patients’ Rights Repeal Act. Three Democrats and 242 Republicans voted in support of the bill.

Some provisions of the act have already gone into effect. Currently under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare recipients no longer have to share costs for preventive care including mammograms, cancer screenings, annual physicals and immunizations. Other provisions have already begun to close the so-called “doughnut hole,” or gap between the initial coverage limit and the threshold for receiving catastrophic coverage. In 2010, young people were permitted to remain on their parents’ health insurance policies until age 26 unless they have other coverage and children with preexisting conditions can no longer be denied coverage.

President Obama signed the final version of the Affordable Care Act in March. If the law is not repealed or declared unconstitutional, it will in 2014 add insurance coverage for 32 million people and extend Medicaid coverage for 16 million Americans. Significantly, the act will ban sex discrimination in health insurance pricing. Currently, women on the average pay 48 percent more for health insurance coverage. The act, when fully implemented, prohibits the exclusion of maternity coverage. Approximately 80 percent of policies currently exclude maternity coverage.

Sources:

CNN 2/3/11; NPR 2/3/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 1/20/11

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