Thursday, February 19, 2009

How Will the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Affect People With MS?

On February 17th president Barack Obama signed a $787 billion dollar piece of legislation called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The bill is intended to create or save millions of jobs and extend insurance benefits for millions of unemployed workers. Additionally, millions will go to energy efficiency programs and investment in renewable energy sources.

But how will the legislation affect people will MS? Various health programs will recieve federal funding, the breakdown is as follows:

1.) Additional funding for NIH: $10 billion to the National Institutes of Health for biomedical research and facilities improvements.
2.) Health Information Technology (HIT): $19 billion in funding to modernize the health care system by adopting new technological standards, which includes privacy and security laws for consumer protection.
3.) Medicaid/Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP): $87 billion over the next two years to help states maintain their Medicaid programs.
3.) COBRA Insurance: Expansion of coverage including a 65 percent subsidy covering premiums for up to 9 months.
4.) Aid to Seniors, Disabled and SSI Recipients: $250 to retirees, disabled individuals and SSI recipients receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration, Railroad Retirement and Department of Veterans Affairs.
5.) Vocational Rehabilitation: $500 million for state grants to help persons living with disabilities prepare for gainful employment.

Many of the new or expanded health care programs included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act seeks to make affordable and quality health care an integral part of overall economic growth and recovery. North Carolina is expecting to receive $6.1 billion from the $787 billion federal stimulus package, with $2.35 billion of it to help the NC provide Medicaid health insurance for low-income residents.
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