During the health-care reform debate, those who opposed the reform bill talked a lot about how it was impossible to understand, how it wouldn’t do anything tangible for ordinary Americans and how it wouldn’t even take effect for years.
Well, as of today—months, not years, after the bill was passed—the following easy-to-understand, tangible changes are in effect:
Insurance companies can’t exclude children based on preexisting conditions.
Certain preventive procedures have to be covered without co-payments.
Young adults (up to age 26) can stay on their parents’ plans.
You can’t get dropped from coverage when you get sick.
You can switch plans and keep your doctor.
You have the right to appeal claims decisions to a third party.
Lifetime benefit limits are no more.
Rebate checks are being sent to help fill the Medicare donut hole.
As for the conservative opposition’s largest talking point—that reform constitutes a government takeover of medicine—note that only the last of the above provisions has anything to do with a government-run program, and an existing one at that.
The PICO National Network has some helpful resources for congregations and others to organize and educate about the realities of reform. CCblogger Marvin Lindsay notes the potential effect on his own family. And the Kaiser Family Foundation’s snazzy new health-care reform site offers this video, narrated by Cokie Roberts, which clearly and thoroughly summarizes reform in nine minutes:
Meanwhile, the Republicans—in a tidy little cut-and-paste from their electoral successes back in 1994, minus the legislative specifics—are offering a “Pledge to America” (pdf) that includes, among other things, “a plan to repeal and replace the government takeover of health care." I think Ezra Klein’s right that the Democrats would be wise to release a forward-looking plan, too. But they might not need to if more people knew the facts about reform.