Yesterday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to acknowledge that Republicans would campaign in future elections on a platform of repealing health reform, but former House Speaker Newt Gingrich predicted that Republicans would exploit the bill’s late implementation date to “run on an absolute pledge to repeal the bill“:
I suspect every Republican running in ’10 and again in ’12 will run on an absolute pledge to repeal this bill. The bill–most of the bill does not go into effect until ’13 or ’14, except on the tax increase side; and therefore, I think there won’t be any great constituency for it. And I think it’ll be a major campaign theme.
While the exchanges don’t go into effect until 2014, the Senate health care bill spends approximately $10 billion between 2011 and 2014 on interim benefits. The bill immediately prohibits insurers from rescinding coverage, imposing life-time or annual limits or denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Applicants who are unable to find insurance in the individual market, can purchase catastrophic coverage and young adults can stay on their parents’ policies until their 27th birthday. Small businesses that provide health coverage will also be eligible for tax credits beginning in 2010.
The bill requires health insurers to spend 80 to 85 percent of all premium dollars on medical care and reduces the size of the coverage gap in Medicare Part D “by $500 in the first year.” The bill also guarantees “50 percent price discounts on brand-name drugs and biologics purchased by low and middle-income beneficiaries in the coverage gap.”
These benefits could also improve as the Senate bill moves into conference. Several House progressives have pledged to push the conference committee to move up the implementation date of the exchanges in the final bill and front load more benefits into the interim period of the final legislation.