Speaking out for People with
 Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Health Care: What's Really in it for People with Disabilities

Commentary (Excerpts)
by Ethan B. Ellis, President, Next Step
August 26, 2009
Congressman Frank Pallone, unruffled and cool, managed to turn the provocative questions and comments [at a recent “Town Hall” meeting] into opportunities to provide real, substantive information about the bill he supports and the legislative alternatives being considered in the Senate. Despite the din, I learned more in an hour than I had in months of sorting through news and opinion on TV and online. I even got in a question that filled in some of the blanks.  Here’s how H.R. 3200 will affect people with disabilities:

• Every health insurance company must offer a plan that covers everyone’s needs.

• All the plans are in one place so you can compare what each one offers and costs.

• No plan can refuse to cover anyone with a pre-existing condition or charge more if they have one.

• It provides a subsidy of up to 80% for people who can’t afford to pay the full cost.

• It increases the amount of money doctors will be paid for treating people on Medicaid and Medicare so more doctors will take them.

• It maintains the same eligibility for Medicaid and Medicare so no one will lose those benefits.

Here’s what that means in a nutshell.

If you have a disability and get a job, you can get health insurance you can afford. You can work as many hours and earn as much as you can and not worry about losing your Medicaid or Medicare because you won’t need it. The government will pay up to four-fifths of your private insurance bill if you can’t afford the whole amount. The insurance company you choose can never drop you or charge you more because of your disability or any illness.

If you don’t think you can work, you can stay on SSI or SSDI and get Medicare and/or Medicaid. The only difference will be that doctors will be paid more for treating you so it will be easier to find one who will.