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Health Care Plans: Romney vs. Obama

Insurance News Net reports:

“Aug. 27–Tampa this week becomes the epicenter of the campaign against the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Republicans call Obamacare.

Most Americans are familiar with bits and pieces of the massive and detailed law, some of which already is in place. And they know expected Republican nominee Mitt Romney wants to repeal the federal law if he ousts President Barack Obama.

Still, it’s difficult to determine what it means to each individual and family. So here’s a breakdown of some key components of the law from the government’s Healthcare.gov website and the former Massachusetts governor’s positions as compiled by Kaiser Health News.

Affordable Care Act

The law: Dozens of new rules will be instituted nationwide through 2014, ranging from a requirement to have health insurance to an expansion of government insurance for the pool to a broad expansion of preventive health care for women and seniors.

Romney: Says he would allow states to opt out of the federal health law and would encourage Congress to repeal it. Believes “each state should be able to fashion their own program for the specific needs of their distinct citizens,” and that states are the “laboratories of democracy.”

Individual mandates

The law: By 2014, it requires all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. It applies to 50 million uninsured, mostly lower-income and middle-class families, who will get federal subsidies to help pay premiums.

Romney: Defends Massachusetts’ individual mandate because it was a state-level decision, not a matter imposed by the federal government. Endorses ending “tax discrimination against the individual purchase of insurance” and has suggested allowing tax deductions for people who buy insurance on their own; favors allowing individuals and small businesses to join together to buy insurance.

Medicaid expansion

The law: States will be able to receive federal matching funds for covering some low-income individuals and families making up to 133 percent of the poverty level. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that states can opt out of this program. Florida Gov. Rick Scott was among the first to say his state will not participate.

Romney: Opposes the health law’s expansion of Medicaid coverage to as many as 17 million people. He supports Medicaid block grants to allow states to use federal contributions to run the program with more flexibility. Would limit federal standards and requirements on private insurance and Medicaid coverage.

Pre-existing conditions

The law: Since 2010, a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) has been available to provide coverage options to individuals uninsured because of a preexisting condition. If a state chooses to not run the plan, citizens can sign up for a plan established by the Department of Health and Human Services in that state. In 2014, all discrimination against pre-existing conditions will be prohibited.

Romney: Urges restricting federal regulation of health care insurance, although he supports limited rules to bar insurers from denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions when they have had coverage for a specified period of time.

Medicare

The law: Since 2011, seniors who reach a prescription coverage gap called the “doughnut hole” get a 50 percent discount on Medicare Part D covered drugs. Other brand-name and generic drug savings are planned through 2020. Also, the law provides certain free preventive services.

Romney: Favors Medicare reforms that would give future beneficiaries a “defined contribution” or “premium support” and allow them to choose between private and traditional plans. Backed a 2011 Republican Medicare proposal by running mate Rep. Paul Ryan that would give seniors the option of Medicare or buying private insurance in 2022.

Contraception:

The law: Starting this month, eight new preventive health care services are offered to women for free. While this includes rules that employers offer contraception for free, the government temporarily waived the requirement to employers with religious exemptions. Several such groups are suing over the rule in federal court.

Romney: Outspoken against the 2010 health law’s requirement for employers’ health plans to cover contraception without a copayment. Opposes federal funding for Planned Parenthood.”

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