Tom Daschle On What Has Gone Right With The Health Care Law

Tom Daschle has outlined what has gone right with health care reform in a column for Kaiser Health News. Here’s a portion:

If you’re an adult with a pre-existing condition, and you have been unable to obtain health insurance for six months or longer, you can now apply to temporary high-risk pools in all of the states that can help you get coverage. The pools — some run by the states, others by the federal government — will act as a safety net until 2014, when health insurers won’t be able to turn you down if you have a health problem.

And as of Sept. 23, the six month anniversary of the law’s enactment, a whole new set of protections is phasing in: coverage for children with preexisting conditions, coverage for young adults through their parents’ health plans, a ban on lifetime limits on people’s benefits, more generous annual limits on their benefits, better appeal rights, and the end of the practice of “rescission” — cancelling people’s coverage retroactively when they get sick. These are not all of the changes the law will make to give people more reliable health coverage. But they are an important start that will keep many of the most vulnerable patients from falling through the cracks — as long as the administration and health insurers work together to find the right balance on the regulations.

There is no point in pretending that everything is going perfectly. There certainly are places where the law could have done more — like providing more funding for the high-risk pools — and issues to watch closely, like what will really happen to premiums as these new protections begin. And there are many things that will have to go right in the coming years, especially the creation of the new exchanges and the experiments in new ways to deliver and pay for health care. The success of those efforts will depend on collaboration among stakeholders across the spectrum.

But it should not be a surprise that we will have to make changes and improvements along the way. No major reform, from the establishment of the Federal Reserve to the creation of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, ever happened perfectly on the first day. The new law is easily as significant as those achievements. We should work through whatever problems we find, but we should never lose sight of what we have already accomplished.