SEATTLE - President Obama spent Thursday promoting the benefits of the
nation's new health care reform plan as Congress worked on the final
details of reconciliation. For almost 200,000 people in Washington
State, the new plan will mean help paying for prescription drugs,
according to advocates for seniors. They say there will also be
affordable access to coverage for nearly a million people in the state
who currently have no health insurance.
Ingrid McDonald, advocacy director for AARP-Washington, says
the plan provides some immediate relief to hundreds of thousands of
seniors and others on Medicaid who fall into the so-called doughnut hole
in prescription drug coverage.
"Twenty-two percent of our Medicare beneficiaries in the state, almost
200,000 people, fall into this gap in coverage each year. In 2010,
people who fall into the doughnut hole will receive an immediate
one-time check for $250."
Coverage will increase so that, eventually, the doughnut hole will be
closed, says McDonald. As for the rest of the plan, Republicans
identified technical flaws in the measure that required one final round
of votes in the House and Senate to repair. Pres. Obama told a rally in
Iowa that costs will come down for families and businesses under the
plan, which he says will reduce the national deficit by $130 billion
over the next decade.
130,000 uninsured people in Washington State between the ages of 50 and
64, who are too young for Medicaid, will gain access to coverage,
according to AARP. Pre-existing conditions will also be
addressed, McDonald adds.
"Under this bill, there is going to be an end to discrimination based on
pre-existing conditions, which impacts a lot of people in this age
range. Right away, if anyone, regardless of age, can't get insurance
because of a pre-existing condition, they will have access to immediate
The plan also brings relief to the nearly one million people in
Washington State of all ages who have no insurance, They will be able to
purchase affordable coverage through state-based health insurance