The House Health Care Reform Bill: What Does It Mean to the Thalassemia Community?

November 11, 2009On Saturday, November 7, 2009 the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, on a vote of 220-215. The bill, generally referred to as health care reform legislation, contains some provisions that are important to thalassemia patients.

What Happens Next?

Now that the House has passed its version of the bill, attention will be focused on the Senate, where leaders will work to reconcile the separate health care bills created by two Senate committees. One of these bills contains similar provisions to the House bill, such as the elimination of pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps. What the final Senate bill will look like and when (or even if) it will be brought before the entire Senate remains to be determined.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently announced that he hopes to begin debate on health care legislation in the Senate next week (the week of November 16).

Assuming the Senate does pass a health care bill, the two houses will then need to work together to create identical versions of the bill, which can then be sent to the President, who will at that time decide if he will sign the final version of the bill into law.

In simplified form, here are some of the highlights of the legislation:

· Insurance companies would not be able to deny coverage based on a pre-existing condition. Currently, many plans impose a “waiting period”

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