Staying current with health care legislation is an overwhelming task. Rules and regulations vary from state to state and family to family, depending on individual circumstances. The push to overhaul health care in the United States has resulted in more confusion than ever.
When it comes to laws that affect your health and wellbeing, leave no stone unturned. Never assume that what you’ve heard is all there is. If you have questions about health care policy or reform, check with multiple reliable sources.
Listed below are some official U.S. government resources and some non-partisan sites that can help answer your questions about health policy, pending legislation, and what it means to you and your family.
Americans with Disabilities Act – Information and technical assistance on the ADA.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – On February 4, 2009, President Obama signed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA), which renews and expands coverage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) from 7 million children to 11 million children. CHIP was previously known as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Originally created in 1997, CHIP is Title XXI of the Social Security Act and is a state and federal partnership that targets uninsured children and pregnant women in families with incomes too high to qualify for most state Medicaid programs, but often too low to afford private coverage. Within Federal guidelines, each State determines the design of its individual CHIP program, including eligibility parameters, benefit packages, payment levels for coverage, and administrative procedures. In addition to renewing the CHIP program, the new legislation makes it easier for certain groups to access CHIP health care, including uninsured children from families with higher incomes and uninsured low-income pregnant women.
Medicaid – Medicaid is available only to certain low-income individuals and families who fit into an eligibility group that is recognized by federal and state law. Medicaid does not pay money to you; instead, it sends payments directly to your health care providers. Depending on your state’s rules, you may also be asked to pay a small part of the cost (co-payment) for some medical services.
Medicare – Government insurance program for people aged 65 and older, people under age 65 with certain disabilities, and people of all ages with end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant).
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) – U.S. Department of Labor: Giving workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events.
Disability.gov – Connecting the disability community to information and opportunities.
Benefit Programs – Economic safety nets and incentives to work.
Civil Rights – Equal opportunity and protection under the law.
Community Life – Independent Living and full participation in the community.
Disability Laws – Understanding the laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities in education, employment, health care, and transportation, and advance the full participation of people with disabilities in their communities, schools, and at work.
Education – Knowledge and training for future success.
Emergency Preparedness – Preparing for and responding to emergencies and disasters.
Employment – Economic independence through jobs and self-employment.
Health – Public, private, and community-based health care options.
Housing – Accessible and affordable housing options.
Technology – Access and independence through technology.
Transportation – Travel independently across town or across the country.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) – The Office for Civil Rights enforces the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information, and the confidentiality provisions of the Patient Safety Rule, which protect identifiable information being used to analyze patient safety events and improve patient safety.
Kaiser Family Foundation – Non-profit foundation focusing on major health care issues. Non-partisan source of facts and information.
Kaiser Global Health Policy – Online gateway for the latest data and information on the U.S. role in global health.
Kaiser State Health Facts – State by state health data: demographics and economy, health status, health coverage and the uninsured, Medicaid and CHIP, health costs and budgets, Medicare, managed care, providers and service use, minority health, women’s health, and HIV/AIDS.
Library of Congress (THOMAS) – Searchable database of pending U.S. legislation.
Social Security Disability Online – Information regarding benefits for people with disabilities. The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program. Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool.
Veterans Benefits Administration – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Disability Compensation – Disability compensation is a benefit paid to a veteran because of injuries or diseases that happened while on active duty, or were made worse by active military service. It is also paid to certain veterans disabled from VA health care. The benefits are tax-free.
Public Health Issues – VHA constantly monitors the nation’s health and preparedness levels. Read reports and comprehensive background information about public health emergencies. Learn about health care services and resources dedicated to the needs of women veterans, homeless veterans, and other former service members. Find out the facts behind diseases stemming from hazardous exposures, including Agent Orange and depleted uranium.
Find out who your representatives in congress are and don’t hesitate to let them know where you stand on the subject.
U.S. Senate – Searchable database of all current senators.
Write Your Representative – This service will assist you by identifying your Congressperson in the U.S. House of Representatives and providing contact information.
Care2 Reform Health Policy – News and opinion on health care policy and reform. What you need to make a difference… all in one place.