Last week, the Supreme Court made headlines by deciding to uphold the health care reform bill. This decision represents a major win for New York and its residents.
Health care reform will benefit New Yorkers from all walks of life. Last year, for example, nearly 250,000 New York senior citizens were victimized by a gap in coverage under Medicare Part D. Thanks to the new legislation, every single senior who reaches this donut hole will receive a one-time $250 rebate check, starting this year.
Just as the bill aids seniors, so will it provide for young people. Since its passage, this legislation has allowed individuals under 26 to remain under their parents coverage, even after finishing school.
While portions of the bill apply to targeted age groups, others will potentially ease the burden on every New Yorker. By establishing a competitive health insurance exchangeopening in 2014every New Yorker will have the ability to purchase insurance at fair market rates. The health care bill also makes it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage because of preexisting conditions. Providers will no longer be able to gouge prices or reject any patient, making sure all citizens are able to buy insurance at a fair price.
The exchange will provide more than just insurance to New Yorkersit will also bring more of your federal tax dollars back to our home state. New Yorks exchange program will be eligible for up to $2.6 billion in federal tax credits and subsidies under the health care overhaul.
Elsewhere, the legislation will reward New York for the coverage already extended under its Medicaid program. The reforms, because of our states number of payouts, will result in up to another billion dollars in federal funding, while expanding coverage to hundreds of thousands more New Yorkers.
Health care reform will also ease the strain on small businesses, by providing small business tax credits to as many as 340,000 New York businesses. While many small businesses were in the past forced to choose between expensive policies or no coverage at all for employees, businesses with under 50 employeeslike most of those in our communitycan have employees purchase their own insurance at fair market value from the soon-to-be created health care exchange.
The important takeaway from all of this is that the health care bill is going to bring a lot of good back to New York.
For once, when people ask, where do our taxes go? we will know our money is saving lives in our community, at the VA Hospital, at Maimonides or at Lutheran Medical Center. And the bill doesnt mean an end to small businessit means that small businesses in our community will have the chance for tax credits while still ensuring that individuals that work at them have access to coverage.
There has been a lot said about health care reform, but the only thing that really matters is that right here, in southwest Brooklyn, this bill is going to put our tax dollars to work for us and make sure that our health insurance takes care of us.
Assemblymember Peter Abbate represents Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Sunset Park.