Health reform payoff is great for N.H.
For hundreds of thousands of New Hampshire residents, the cost of health care has been climbing steadily out of reach. But help is on the way. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act make high-quality health care more affordable and accessible.Small businesses account for three-quarters of New Hampshire’s businesses. Yet, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, just over half of our small businesses can afford to offer health insurance to their employees. Starting this year, tens of thousands of New Hampshire’s small businesses will be eligible for up to a 35 percent tax credit, making it easier for companies to offer health insurance to the nearly 100,000 individuals they employ.New Hampshire’s 204,000 Medicare recipients will also see immediate benefits. Each year, over 36,000 New Hampshire seniors hit the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole.” Starting this year, seniors who experience this gap in their prescription drug coverage will receive a $250 check to help them through the doughnut hole.Almost 300,000 children live in New Hampshire. Starting with 2010, insurance plans will not be able to refuse to cover children with pre-existing conditions. This is immediate good news for New Hampshire’s youngest patients.New Hampshire’s adults will find help in several ways as well. Through a health insurance exchange system, the nearly 150,000 uninsured adults and the more than 60,000 individuals who currently purchase insurance through the individual market will have more affordable insurance options. Through the exchange and insurance market reform, family health insurance premiums are likely to decrease by $1,890 to $2,710 for the same benefits. Health reform offers assistance for our 100,000 low-income adults, allowing them to qualify for premium tax credits to help them purchase private insurance.Thousands of adults in New Hampshire can’t find health insurance because they have a pre-existing condition. By this summer, help will be on the way in the form of subsidies to help make the coverage they need possible.For several years, New Hampshire has allowed young adults up through age 25 to stay on their family insurance plan if that plan is regulated by the state. Beginning this year, this benefit will be available to all of New Hampshire’s young adults.New Hampshire has an excellent health-care system, but our families and businesses need help paying its high cost. Comprehensive health-care reform provides critical assistance to struggling families while also reducing costs and making the system more efficient. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office has determined that these two bills are fully paid for, will bend the health-care cost curve and will reduce the deficit by $143 billion over the next 10 years with further deficit reduction in the following decade.Democratic Rep. Cindy Rosenwald of Nashua chairs the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee in the New Hampshire House.