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Understanding Health Care Reform

Updated November 9, 2009

As the House and Senate continue to negotiate the details of the 2009 Health Care Reform bills, many inaccurate accounts of the provisions have been reported. This guide is intended to clear away the confusion and provide the facts as they are supplied by the legislative committees themselves.

Whether you are for or against Health Care Reform, this guide will provide a clear picture on what is and is not included in the reform bills. At this time, there are several bills in both the House and Senate, each of which has differences in policy. Keep in mind that bills can be rewritten in part or in whole before signed into law. The House and Senate bills must be combined before passage. This guide provides an overview of H.R. 3200 and S.1679. These bill are just a starting point and will surely see revisions.

We will continue to update this guide as the bills progress through the legislative process.

Please select a quick link (or scroll down):

What is the Disability Community looking for in Health Care Reform?

For a side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate Reform Bills, developed by the Disability Coalition for Healthcare Reform, visit www.paraquad.org/Policy/documents/11-10-09analoflegislation.pdf.

The Disability Coalition for Healthcare Reform is looking for reform that will provide guaranteed, affordable health coverage for all with a choice of private or public plans that cover all medically necessary services. More specifically, the coalition will support a bill that will:

End the two-year waiting period for Medicare

Provide Medicaid health care coverage to all Americans living at or below 100% of the federal poverty level
A person earning $10,830 is priced out of the insurance market.

Eliminate pre-existing condition exclusions and rating based on age, health status and gender
Because of unfair insurance practices, many families cannot buy insurance even if they can afford it.

Include subsidies for lower-income Americans who cannot afford health care costs
80% of the uninsured are from working families. We need affordable options so all Americans can access care and take their child to a doctor when needed.

Reform the long-term care system to increase choice and access to home and community-based services
Very little funding is provided for long-term care supports in the home. Taking individuals out of their homes and forcing them into nursing homes costs everyone more money and breaks families apart.

Health Care Reform: Fact vs. Fiction

Before we get into the details of the bill itself, we would like to first address a few myths and misinformation that has been circulating since it's introduction:

Following are a few facts offered by the American Association of Retired Persons and the American Association of People with Disabilities to help clear the confusion.

To get a clearer picture on what Health Reform will and will not do, visit the White House's Health Insurance Reform Reality Check website online at www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck.

The House Bill: Affordable Health Care for America Act

Introduced on October 29, 2009, this bill combines the previous bills passed by the The House Committees on Education and Labor, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce. The bill is designed to slow the growth in out-of-control costs, introduce competition into the health care marketplace to keep coverage affordable and insurers honest, protect people’s choices of doctors and health plans, and assure all Americans access to quality, stable, affordable health care.


If you like your current coverage, you can keep it! You will not be forced to join a public coverage option. This bill provides more options that are intended to create competition and therefore, drive down prices. Following are a few ways in which this bill will improve choice.


This bill would ensure that health care would no longer be out of reach for low- and moderate-income individuals and families:

Shared Responsibility

This bill does not place the burden of providing and obtaining health care on any one entity, but rather requires that every individual and business share the responsibility in ensuring affordable coverage. A big fear associated with the reform is the burden it will place on employers. Regulations are in place to ensure that employers with the smallest payrolls will not be required to offer coverage or contribute on behalf of their workers.

The Senate Bill: S. 1679 - Affordable Health Choices Act

Introduced July 15, 2009, the Affordable Health Choices Act seeks to make quality, affordable health care available to all Americans, reduce costs, improve health care quality, enhance disease prevention, and strengthen the health care workforce.

Following are the provisions we feel are specifically relevant to individuals with disabilities. For a detailed overview of every provision, please visit HELP Committee Affordable Health Choices Act - Detailed Summary.

Effective Coverage for All Americans

Available Coverage for all Americans

Affordable Coverage for all Americans

Shared Responsibility for Health Care

Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS)

CLASS creates a new national insurance program to help working adults who have or develop functional impairments to remain independent and remain part of their communities. Financed through voluntary payroll deductions, this program will remove barriers to independence and choice by providing a cash benefit to individuals unable to perform two or more functional activities of daily living. Cash benefits will be paid into a Life Independence Account to purchase nonmedical services and supports needed to maintain a beneficiary’s independence at home or in another residential setting, including home modifications, assistive technology, accessible transportation, homemaker services, respite care, personal assistance services, home care aides, and added nursing support.

Access to Preventive Services and Creating Healthier Communities

Paying for the Reform

With any reform comes the question of "Who is going to pay for it?"

Under the House bill, there are three taxes that will cover the cost of the reform.


Affordable Health Care Act for America- edlabor.house.gov/blog/2009/10/affordable-health-care.shtml
Prepared by the House Committee on Eduation and Labor

The Health Care Bill's Tax Increases - www.opencongress.org/articles/view/1187-The-Health-Care-Bill-s-Tax-Increases

HELP Committee Affordable Health Choices Act - Detailed Summary - http://help.senate.gov/DetailedSummary.pdf
Prepared by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Open Congress: H.R.3200 - America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 - www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/show

If you have questions or ideas, information and solutions that you would like to share with us, contact us by e-mail at: horizons@new-horizons.org or to use our NHU E-Mail Form or NHU Community Discussion Board, click the links below.

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