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FROM THE HILL

Love it – Hate it

What will health care reform do for you?

BY JOHNWILLARD

Contributing Writer

After more than a year of political

wrangling, tea party rallies, town hall meetings, charges and counter-charges, and hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying and political ads for and against it, Congress finally passed comprehensive health care reform legislation. President Barack Obama, flanked by key members of Congress, signed the legislation into law at a White House ceremony on March 23. No sooner had the ink dried than Republicans, none of whom voted for the legislation, began calling for its repeal. Without a doubt healthcare reform is the

most far-reaching social program in almost 50 years, certainly since Congress passed Medicare. Now that all of the smoke has cleared, everyone has one thought on their mind, “Enough about how this health reform will affect others – how will it affect me?”

SOME BASICS

Well, for starters, this federal program will

affect just about everyone. Some citizens will see real benefits. Others will pay higher taxes and more fees for services. It won’t be cheap, not that cheap is always a good thing. This health reform package will carry a price tag of about $938 billion over 10 years. When fully implemented, the program will expand coverage to an additional 32 million Americans. Some of the most far reaching provisions

of the bill involve insurance company practices that have received the most criticism in recent years. Among other things, the bill bars insurance companies from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions, eliminates lifetime caps on coverage, and prevents insurers from dropping insurance when claims are filed. The country’s poorest adults will also

see tremendous benefits. Those with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level-will qualify for Medicaid, while lower income people who don’t qualify

for Medicaid will get federal subsidies to help them buy coverage from new state organized insurance marketplaces known as “insurance exchanges.” Upper income taxpayers, though, will

likely see significant increases in taxes and fees. The biggest tax increase will come in the form of Medicare payroll taxes. Beginning in 2013, single Americans earning more than $200,000 and couples beginning at $250,000 will pay 0.9 percentage points more on their wages and self-employment income. Their investment earnings will also be taxed 3.8 percent which is the first time the hospital insurance tax has hit non-wage income. The other significant tax increase comes

ROADWISE | APRIL 2010 | www.mttrucking.org

in the form of new taxes on so called “Cadillac” health insurance plans. Starting in 2018, family insurance plans valued at more than $27,500 annually will pay a 40 percent tax above that level.

BIG WINNERS…

Most U.S. trucking firms are small

businesses. So, in theory, the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats contend that small business owners will be big winners under this new health care reform bill. Supporters of the program point to the fact that small businesses currently pay up to 18 percent more per worker in health insurance premiums than do larger firms for

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