Carper Announces New Administration Health Care Initiatives
Urges Delaware Businesses to Apply For Help to Cover Early Retirees; Champions Pre-Existing Condition Coverage, New Consumer Website on Health Care
WASHINGTON– Today Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) announced the Administration’s launch of three measures as part of the new comprehensive health care reform law. Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began accepting applications for the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP) to help businesses maintain health care coverage for early retirees age 55 and older who don’t yet qualify for Medicare. HHS also announced the establishment of the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, which will offer coverage to Americans denied coverage from other insurance companies due to pre-existing conditions. Additionally, the Administration launched its new "first-of-its-kind" consumer website, HealthCare.gov, which provides much needed transparency for the health care marketplace and allows individuals to have more control over their health care as informed and empowered consumers.
The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program will reimburse employers for medical claims for retirees age 55 and older who are not eligible for Medicare, and their spouses, surviving spouses, and dependents. Employers – including businesses, unions, state and local governments, and nonprofits – that provide health coverage for early retirees are eligible to apply. Employers may use the funding to reduce their own health care costs, to provide premium relief to their workers and families, or a combination of both. Employers will be reimbursed for up to 80 percent of retiree health claims that total between $15,000 and $90,000 and are incurred after June 1, 2010. The Affordable Care Act provided $5 billion in funding for this program. The program began ahead of schedule on June 29, 2010 and will pay claims dating back to June 1, 2010, ensuring that more claims will qualify for reinsurance payments this year. This program will act as a bridge to the new health insurance marketplace established by the exchanges in 2014. Applications for the program, as well as application assistance, can be found at: www.hhs.gov/ociio.
"This provision is welcomed news that helps ease the considerable financial burden Delaware businesses face when employees retire early," said Sen. Carper. "Beginning this program ahead of schedule and extending the period for which claims can be submitted means more businesses will be able to extend coverage to employees who retire early. Early retirees will now have even more access to better quality health coverage and care, and their former employers can provide benefits they may have been unable to provide in recent years. I encourage all Delaware businesses to apply for this program."
Earlier today, HHS announced the establishment of a new Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) that will offer coverage to uninsured Americans who have been unable to obtain health coverage because of a pre-existing health condition. Information on how to apply for the PCIP in each state is available on HealthCare.gov.
Additionally, HHS launched HealthCare.gov, a website that serves as a clearinghouse of available health insurance options for individuals, families and small employers. The website, required by the Affordable Care Act, is simple and easy to use, and provides one-stop access to a wealth of information, including new consumer rights and benefits under the Affordable Care Act, a timeline of when new programs under the new law will come online between now and 2014 and a new insurance finder that helps consumers find both private and public health insurance options. Beginning in October, 2010, price estimates for health insurance plans will be available online.
"Today the Administration is following through on its word to Americans and builds on the promise of accessibility and transparency with this new website and the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan," said Sen. Carper. "Americans who were at one time denied coverage when they needed it the most now have access to quality care. And, at the click of a mouse, millions of Americans will be able to compare and research insurance plans, learn about what health care rights they have, and how to make sense of it all. Keeping consumers fully informed increases competition among insurance companies, reduces prices of plans and improves overall quality."