Friday, January 7, 2011

Health care reform changes for 2011

FLINT: While the conflict goes on over health care on Capitol Hill, some key provisions of the reform law have gone into effect for 2011.

Lawmakers feel that the alterations will give seniors the medical care they need, and health officials are optimistic the new laws will make Mid-Michigan residents live longer lives.

Vast changes are taking place in the health care industry. As part of the Health Care Reform Law, starting this year many Medicare recipients will pay less for prescription drugs.

“If they have high costs and fall in the gap of medicine, they're going to be able to cut their costs in half, and they are going to be able to get doctor’s visits and cancer screenings without any out of pocket costs,” said U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow.

As there is going to be a focus on preventative health services, health officials say there may be fewer people in the waiting room. “If we intervene earlier in these diseases we can reduce health care costs,” said Mark Valacak, the Director of the Genesee County Health Department.

Also starting this year, restaurants with 20 or more locations will be required to post calorie counts on their menus, with Flint being one of the top ten cities for obesity rates, the Genesee County Health Department hopes this will make a difference. “Being informed, having the information there, will allow us to make better food choices,” said Valacak.

Tax season is almost here, now small businesses will get a tax cut to help pay for health insurance for their employees.

“We want to turn this around so that families have freedom from worrying about whether or not they will be able to get medical care,” said Senator Stabenow. And he says health insurance companies are now held accountable.

“If they spend too much money on administrative or profits they are going to have to refund money to families with insurance,” said Senator Stabenow. Moreover, the Health Care Reform Law also includes a provision that lets early retirees stay on their former employer’s insurance plan until they qualify for Medicare.
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