Health care repeal would impact Eastern N.C.

Published 10:36 am Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – The proof is in the numbers, according to U.S. Congressman G. K. Butterfield.

The minority staff of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has completed a detailed analysis for every congressional district across the country on the impacts of the pending repeal of health care reform.

Rep. Butterfield – who serves North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, which includes all of the Roanoke-Chowan area – says the impact of that repeal would be devastating within his 23-county district.

“People may be very surprised by just how big the impacts of repeal would be for people in eastern North Carolina,” Butterfield said in a press release issued Tuesday afternoon. “Insurers have stopped discriminating against sick children; seniors are saving money on prescription drugs; small businesses are receiving tax credits to provide health insurance; and, people with insurance are enjoying new rights and protections against insurance industry abuses. Unfortunately, this would all be rolled back.”

This week, Butterfield said, the House is scheduled to consider legislation to repeal the historic patients’ rights, protections and benefits already in effect as a result of the historic health care law.

Butterfield expressed disappointment that here have been no hearings on the implications of repeal.

“Sadly, the public may not have an opportunity to fully understand what’s at stake until after a vote has already been taken,” Butterfield said.

Under the health reform law, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions and will be banned from discriminating against adults with pre-existing conditions in 2014. According to the analysis, as many as 261,000 people in the district have pre-existing conditions like diabetes, heart disease or cancer. The analysis is based upon data from the U.S. Census, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Congressional Budget Office.

Repeal would allow insurance companies to refuse to insure these individuals if they seek coverage in the individual or small-group markets. The consequences would be particularly acute for the 19,000 to 50,000 individuals in the 1st District who currently lack insurance coverage and who would be unable to purchase individual policies if the law is repealed.

Starting this year, the health reform law provides a 50 percent discount for prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries who enter the Medicare Part D “donut hole” and lose coverage for their drug expenses. The law then increases the discount to Medicare beneficiaries each year until 2020, when the donut hole is finally eliminated.

According to the report, there are 7,300 Medicare beneficiaries in Butterfield’s district who are expected to benefit from these provisions. Repeal would increase the average cost of prescription drugs for these Medicare beneficiaries by over $500 in 2011 and by over $3,000 in 2020.

The health reform law provides tax credits to small businesses worth up to 35 percent of the cost of providing health insurance. There are up to 11,600 small businesses in Butterfield’s district that are eligible for this tax credit. He explained that repeal would force these small businesses to drop coverage or bear the full costs of coverage.

The health reform law also allows young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance policies up to age 26. In Butterfield’s district, 2,600 young adults have or are expected to take advantage of this benefit. Repeal would force these young adults to find other coverage or return to the ranks of the uninsured.

According to the report, repeal would increase retiree health care costs for employers. The health reform law provides funding to encourage employers to continue to provide health insurance for their retirees. As many as 8,400 district residents who have retired but are not yet eligible for Medicare could ultimately benefit from this early retiree assistance. Repeal would increase costs for employers and jeopardize the coverage their retirees are receiving.

Repeal would also increase the cost of uncompensated care born by hospitals. The health reform law benefits hospitals by covering more Americans and thereby reducing the cost of providing care to the uninsured. Repeal would undo this benefit, increasing the cost of uncompensated care by $65 million annually for hospitals in the district.

The full report on the impacts on North Carolina’s First District can be found online at