Sen. Carper Welcomes Administration Action to Move Forward with Implementing Key Provisions of the Affordable Care Act
Proposed rules ban discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, expand employer wellness programs
Nov 20 2012
WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee who helped craft the healthcare reform legislation in the Senate, welcomed the Obama Administration's steps toward implementing key provisions of the Affordable Care Act that would make it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and make it easier for consumers to compare health plans, and give employers more tools to promote and encourage employee wellness – a provision championed and coauthored by Sen. Carper. For more information on the Administration's announcement, please click here.
"Since its enactment nearly three years ago, thousands of Delawareans have taken advantage of benefits offered by the Affordable Care Act that increase access to high quality, affordable healthcare while lowering health care costs," said Sen. Carper. "These initiatives will help deliver better healthcare results for less money, and in doing so, ensure that we can help millions of Americans without healthcare obtain it. Before the Affordable Care Act, thousands of Delawareans and Americans were unfairly denied – or struggled to find – traditional health insurance because they had a pre-existing condition. Today's action will help establish stronger consumer protections to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to Americans with preexisting conditions or dropping their coverage when they get sick or injured. No American should be denied healthcare coverage because of their medical history. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Delawareans and all Americans can rest assured that they will have health insurance coverage when they need it the most.
"The expansion of employer-sponsored wellness programs is another commonsense measure that will help us focus on prevention and wellness, improve health outcomes and bring down the cost of health care," continued Sen. Carper. "This provision, which I was proud to help craft, will give employers more tools to encourage employees to lead healthier lifestyles by lowering health insurance premiums by 30 percent or more for employee participation in weight loss, smoking cessation, and other wellness programs. When Americans lead healthier lives, we can prevent or manage many of the chronic diseases that drive up our healthcare costs and reduce our quality of life, lessening the burden on everyone.
"While we cannot fix every shortcoming in our healthcare system overnight, the Affordable Care Act is the catalyst that will shift our country from a 'sick-care system' to a true 'health-care system' and get better health care outcomes for less money. Moving forward, Congress, the Administration, businesses and healthcare providers will continue to work with the American people to implement and improve the healthcare reform law and further strengthen our healthcare system."
Today, the Obama Administration issued:
- A proposed rule that, beginning in 2014, prohibits health insurance companies from discriminating against individuals because of a pre-existing or chronic condition. Under the rule, insurance companies would be allowed to vary premiums within limits, only based on age, tobacco use, family size, and geography. Health insurance companies would be prohibited from denying coverage to any American because of a pre-existing condition or from charging higher premiums to certain enrollees because of their current or past health problems, gender, occupation, and small employer size or industry. The rule would ensure that people for whom coverage would otherwise be unaffordable, and young adults, have access to a catastrophic coverage plan in the individual market. For more information regarding this rule, visit: http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2012/11/market-reforms11202012a.html.
- A proposed rule outlining policies and standards for coverage of essential health benefits, while giving states more flexibility to implement the Affordable Care Act. Essential health benefits are a core set of benefits that would give consumers a consistent way to compare health plans in the individual and small group markets. A companion letter on the flexibility in implementing the essential health benefits in Medicaid was also sent to states. For more information regarding this rule, visit http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2012/11/ehb11202012a.html.
- A proposed rule implementing and expanding employment-based wellness programs to promote health and help control health care spending, while ensuring that individuals are protected from unfair underwriting practices that could otherwise reduce benefits based on health status. For more information regarding this rule, visit: http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2012/11/wellness11202012a.html.