What's In It For Us? 

Last week we editorialized concerning provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that directly benefited the Med. This week we'll summarize some of the bill's other positive features.

Notable is that the act puts an end to "pre-existing conditions" as a reason for denying health-insurance coverage. Aside from the general relief granted by this provision, it gives some of those thousands disenrolled from TennCare in the last few years access to acceptable private health insurance.

The act provides tax credits for businesses with fewer than 50 employees in order to facilitate their ability to make health coverage available. It also extends the cut-off age for children on their parents' health-insurance plans to age 26, an invaluable concession in this age of extended education and high unemployment.

The infamous "doughnut hole" in Medicare prescription-drug benefits — whereby a gap in coverage formerly existed past a certain point, requiring a patient to go out of pocket — is no more. Also abolished are the caps on the amount of health insurance an individual can acquire during a lifetime, as well as the odious practice of "recissions" by insurers, whereby individuals who have been naughty enough to make claims could be arbitrarily dropped from coverage.

Another boon to consumers is the bill's making mandatory in new insurance plans the inclusion of appeals procedures in the case of denied claims or benefits deemed insufficient. Also mandatory will be coverage for preventive-care plans.

To be sure, the final bill suffers from there being no "public option," whereby the government itself could provide a fallback basic-insurance plan by means of keeping the insurance companies honest. As things stand, health-insurance coverage is still in the hands of private, profit-making enterprises, and while several of the companies have admirable records in making health insurance available and in paying off legitimate claims, the fact is that their coverage is still dependent on cost considerations, not all of which, to say the least, work to the insured's benefit.

But that adage about the perfect being the enemy of the good may apply here. While debate will continue as to just how "good" the new law is, it's undeniably better than what we had before. Rejoice.

April Madness

What a wonderful event, right? The NCAA tournament just concluded was one of the best ever, loaded with heart-warming upsets and glorious down-to-the-wire conclusions. Appropriately, the championship game itself featured one of the mid-major overachievers, Butler University, versus one of the game's established powerhouses, Duke, and it, too, could have been won by a buzzer-beater. And let us admit that we were as satisfied by the comeuppance received by John Calipari's team of one-and-done semi-pro athletes wearing Kentucky blue as we were oblivious to the consequences of the opportunistic coach's fielding such a team for all those years in Tiger blue. Maybe the University of Memphis has learned from the experience, which resulted in humbling NCAA sanctions.

In any case, we look forward to the prospects for next year under Josh Pastner, whose best-in-the-nation recruiting class has surely been vetted for any potential irregularities. We want some more of that tournament madness for ourselves.

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