Report Says Federal Health Care Law Will Benefit Missourians

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COLUMBIA - The Obama administration issued a report Wednesday stating the Affordable Care Act will benefit Missourians.

The report indicates it will help the 84 percent of Missourians who have insurance to get more choices and stronger coverage. It plans to help the 16 percent of Missourians who don't have insurance to find affordable plans.

Supporters of the health care law said it will help Missourians in four ways: better options, better value, better health, and stronger Medicaid.

For better options, supporters hope the law will provide new options for young adults and end discrimination for pre-existing conditions. It will also make it easier for Missourians to compare health plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace, which will begin Oct. 1.

Obama administrators hope to promote better value through the 80/20 rule, which means health insurance companies must spend at least 80 cents per dollar on health care instead of other things. The law would also call for stricter scrutiny on insurance companies to make sure premium increases are legitimate. In addition, the law would call for a ban on lifetime limits on health benefits, which means people with chronic diseases don't have to worry about going without treatment when their lifetime limits are up.

For its plans for better health, the Affordable Care Act seeks to increase support for community health centers, which will ultimately help uninsured Missourians, as KOMU reported last month. Supporters of the act also hope to invest in the primary care workforce to combat the shortage of primary care doctors, especially in rural areas. Better health also includes preventing illnesses and promoting health through more effective policies in Missouri.

As part of its stronger Medicare program, the law will make prescription drugs more affordable to seniors and cover preventative services with no deductible or co-pay. That way, cost would no longer be a barrier to seniors or people with disabilities who want to detect health problems early. Finally, the Affordable Care Act will extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by ten years.

One uninsured Missourian didn't want to give his name, but is excited about the Affordable Care Act easing his worries. A few weeks ago, he got in an accident at work and was more worried about the hospital costs than the actual injury.

"I haven't quite gotten the bill yet but once it gets here, I'm pretty sure bullets will not be sweating, probably bombshells," he said.

He also said it's a citizen's right to have health insurance.

"We advertise by being the land of the free and home of the brave. And yet I don't see proud faces," he said. "I see people looking in hospitals like people in an Oliver Twist story. It's sad and honestly I'm happy [Obama] is doing this. I am."

But while some Missourians are excited about the Affordable Care Act's goals, others are worried about how the country is going to afford them.

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