Durbin holds conference to address health care reform

September 22, 2010
By: Svjetlana Stojanovic

U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, D-Ill., along with several other speakers, held a teleconference Wednesday discussing changes that will be made to health care in Illinois. Several provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law six months ago, go into effect Thursday.
The lifetime benefit cap will be banned from insurance policies and all young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26.
The Illinois Department of Insurance has begun establishing a system to closely review proposed increases in health insurance premiums.
Lifetime benefit caps limit the total amount of money one has access to under his or her insurance policy.
“Insurance companies will no longer be able to place lifetime limits,” Durbin said.
During the teleconference, Tim Fraas, a resident of Elgin, Ill., talked about his experience undergoing a heart transplant. Fraas had a $3 million lifetime benefit cap under his wife’s insurance to cover his transplant but has already reached the $1 million dollar mark.
“If my wife loses her job, we’ll lose our house,” Fraas said.
Cristal Thomas, regional director of the U.S. Department Health and Human Services, said the changes to the patients’ bill of rights will go into effect with these provisions to the health care law.
“People who want to take control of their health are able to do so and won’t have to worry about the out of pocket cost or their ability to pay for those services,” Thomas said.
Thomas said the provisions are a bridge to even more changes that are set to go into effect in 2014. The current provisions will immediately go into effect on new plans, but existing plans will be added on a rolling basis depending on when plan changes can be made.
“It’s really unfortunate something we take for granted in the US is our health care,” said Bob Robinson, executive director of the Hemophilia Foundation of Illinois.
Robinson said most people won’t know if they face a lifetime benefit cap until tomorrow and wants people to go and read the outline of their insurance policy.
Durbin said those that “are calling for repeal of the health care reform bill” need to give the bill a chance to work.
“They are turning their back on the health care we’re giving senior citizens,” Durbin said. “The bill is not perfect, but this bill should be given the opportunity to work.”