By Alexandra Sange
In case you haven’t checked the news today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced the completion of major negotiations on the House health reform bill and released the product of those efforts – the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962). This highly anticipated landmark legislation reflects months of discussions and several committees’ work. And it shows.
NACHC CEO Tom Van Coverden thanked Speaker Pelosi and her leadership team in a statement today, calling the bill “stellar” with specific reference to its coverage expansions and delivery system reforms. So in case you don’t have time to read all 2,000 pages tonight, here’s an idea of some of the key provisions the bill contains to reform health care for Community Health Centers and the patients we serve:
- Invests an additional $12 billion in new, guaranteed funding for Community Health Centers over 5 years through the Public Health Investment Fund, which will allow health centers to expand to serve up to 20 million new patients by 2015;
- Invests nearly $2 billion in new funding for the National Health Service Corps over 5 years for scholarships and loan repayment;
- Starting in 2011, expands preventive services at FQHC to include all Medicare preventive services;
- Names Community Health Centers as “Essential Community Providers,” requiring any plans that participate in a federal health insurance exchange to contract with FQHCs and others that serve predominantly low-income, medically-underserved individuals in their enrollment area;
- Expands Medicaid coverage to all individuals with incomes below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), extending Medicaid benefits to an additional 15 million poor and low-income Americans; and
- Makes affordable insurance coverage available to as many as 36 million currently uninsured or underinsured Americans.
The newly released House bill puts a strong emphasis on preventive and primary health care and begins to reform payment toward value-based purchasing and away from fee-for-service. According to information released by the Speaker’s office, the initial Congressional Budget Office estimates indicate this will result in a roughly $30 billion reduction in the deficit by 2019.
There are a lot of other provisions in the 1,900+ pages of legislative text that you may want to look through, so we’ve posted a summary, a section by section analysis, an implementation timeline, and more from the House on our health reform hub – remember to check back, early and often, for updates and additional information and analysis.
Health centers owe great thanks to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, and all of our champions in the House for introducing this landmark bill. Now we need to do all we can to help Congress to pass it. Stay tuned, and make sure you’re signed up to our Health Center Grassroots Advocacy list, for updates as HR3962 moves to the House floor and beyond.