This afternoon, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) openly challenged Sen. John Thune (R-SD)’s claim that the Senate health care bill does not offer benefits until 2014. “We are entitled to our own opinions; we are not entitled to our own facts,” Franken declared. “I stand here day after day after day and hear my colleagues, my good friends from the other side, say things that are not based on fact.”
The Senate health care bill spends $10 billion between 2011 and 2014 on interim benefits. Franken explained that the bill offers immediate insurance reforms for Americans purchasing coverage in the individual market and closes the donut hole in Medicare Part D.
“Senator Thune did say that none of the benefits started next year, but he just, I guess, hasn’t read the bill,” Farnken said. “I do find that many of my colleagues who I’m very friendly with, haven’t read the bill and are not very familiar with it.”
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The exchanges don’t open open until 2014, but the Senate health bill immediately prohibits insurers from rescinding coverage or imposing life-time or annual limits. Americans who are denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition could participate in a national high-risk pool program and young Americans can stay on their parents’ policies until they turn 26. Under the Medicare buy-in compromise, Americans between 55 and 64 would also be able to enroll in the Medicare program on day one.
Franken may have overstated his case, however. While the bill offers some substantial immediate benefits, the bulk of reform does not kick in until 2014, once the exchanges are established.