The Vault
In Support of Health Care Reform
Friday, November 5, 2010 - 12:00am
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The day after the election, Republican Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana declared, "Obamacare was roundly rejected. We need to rip it up, root and branch." 

Actually, exit polls showed that about as many voters wanted health-care reform legislation kept or expanded as wanted it repealed. And most likely, what the latter group wanted repealed was the caricature of the act presented by GOP politicians like Pence.

The legislation already has accomplished a lot. Among other things, insurance companies no longer can cancel coverage after you get sick because you failed to tell them about the gallstones you didn't know you had when you signed up. Children can't be rejected because of pre-existing conditions. Your dependents can be covered by your policy until they are 26.

As of the first of the year, Medicare will cover preventive care such as annual physicals. For that and other exams such as mammograms, abdominal aortic aneurysm screenings and colonoscopies, the annual Part B deductible and copayments won’t apply if your doctor accepts assignment of benefits.

This year, people enrolled in Medicare drug plans are getting a $250 non-taxable payment if their prescription-drug costs put them into the infamous donut hole, the gap in coverage until they have spent a certain amount and benefits kick back in. Next year, drug companies will give a discount--probably 50 percent--on brand-name drugs bought while in the donut hole, and over the next 10 years the hole gradually will be closed.

In an op-ed piece in the New York Times headlined "To Save Money, Save the Health Care Act, Peter Orzag, President Obama's former budget director, explained how the reform legislation will curtail long-term increase in federal health care costs, the single greatest threat to the government's finances.

As a Medicare recipient familiar with the donut hole, I don't want “Obamacare” repealed. And I'll bet most people don't want to be returned completely to the tender mercy of private health insurance companies either.

covered the Federal Reserve and the economy for 25 years at the Washington Post before joining Bloomberg News in 2004. In 2009 he began writing freelance pieces for, among others, Thomson Reuters, and is widely recognized for his ability to interpret the Fed.