New Year, New Health Care Provisions: What You Can Expect


What the New Health Care Law Means for You

The new law requires that Medicaid be expanded to cover Americans whose incomes are at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level -- which equates to about $14,000 in 2010 for a person living alone.

Several states have cut their Medicaid benefits, including Arizona and Texas.

Other Provisions:

As part of the new changes, over-the-counter drugs will not be reimbursed through a Health Reimbursement Account or a Flexible Spending Account.

Small businesses that establish wellness programs will become eligible for grants, beginning in January 2011.

States will also start receiving grants, starting March 23, to establish insurance exchanges in which individuals and small-business owners can shop for coverage.

In what has become one of the most contentious parts of the health care legislation, many states are opposed to insurance exchanges. Meanwhile, some Washington lawmakers are proposing ideas to allow states to opt out of exchanges. Exchanges are set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2014.

A new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation will be established Jan. 1 to examine new methods of payment and delivery to reduce health care costs.

In the coming year, nutrition labeling requirements will also be issued for chain restaurants and vending machines.

As many Americans renew their health insurance plans, they will likely see new benefits kick in that went into effect in 2010, such as allowing young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until they turn 26, and no lifetime caps on insurance.

Political Fallout:

Even as new provisions roll out, the political debate over health care is far from subsiding.

"The real issue for next year is Medicare and Medicaid. There will be an all-out attack on those programs on the grounds that the deficit needs to be reduced," said Joseph White, director of the Center for Policy Studies at Case Western Reserve University. "It is very hard to see how any set of Medicaid cuts will fit with the Medicaid expansions that are a major part of the health care reform. The effects of Medicare cuts will be less direct, but will be damaging in their own right."

Incoming lawmakers who campaigned against the bill vow to repeal or defund parts of the legislation, even as it takes effect.

In the Senate, such lawmakers as Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., are crafting plans to revise the bill and give states more options.

The part that has garnered the most controversy -- and lawsuits -- is the requirement that all individuals have health insurance by 2014.

Opponents argue that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and should be cut, but whether any action is taken on it remains to be seen.

"Early in the new session they might pass repeal of this provision in the House, but even while doing this they will know that it is only symbolic, since it won't pass the Senate and even if it did, it would obviously be vetoed by President Obama," said Daniel S. Blumenthal, an associate dean for community health at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.

ABC News' Kim Carollo contributed to this report.

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