The Statement: A citizen asked U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Arkansas, at an August 14 town meeting in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, "How soon can you do something about our health care that has to be fixed? ... When will this take place? When will this reform take place? Do you have a goal in mind?"
(Get the facts and the verdict after the jump)
The Facts: If the health-care overhaul is enacted in October, it will take several years for the plan to go into effect, according to the bill. But some benefits would start immediately, including provisions that would require private insurers to provide a minimum level of coverage, Medicare improvements, provisions to decrease administrative costs and targeted assistance for certain people ages 55-64.
"Wholesale reform can't happen overnight. We've got to create a new Health Insurance Exchange through which people will be able to purchase their insurance, and we've got to create a Health Benefits Advisory Committee to make recommendations on the essential benefits package. These changes will take some time," according to Frequently Asked Questions on the House Ways and Means Committee's Web site.
Dr. Kenneth Thorpe, chairman of health policy and management at Emory University, agrees that the process of making such changes would be laborious.
"Setting up these insurance exchanges takes awhile," he said. The public health insurance plan would start going into effect in 2013. In that year, the Health Insurance Exchange - which offers a menu of private insurance plans and a public insurance program - would open to people without other coverage and to small businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
In 2014, the exchange would be opened to small businesses with up to 20 employees. In that same year, the plan would open the health insurance exchange to people who are eligible for employer-sponsored coverage but can't afford it.
The bill says the employee's share of premiums for employer-based coverage must absorb more than 11 percent of a family's income for the family to be eligible for affordability credits in the exchange.
In 2015, the exchange would be allowed to expand to include larger employers.
"As a reference, it took two years to fully develop the Medicare prescription drug program after the Republicans passed it - and that was a limited benefit just for Medicare beneficiaries, rather than reforming our entire health-care system, which touches the lives of each and every American," the FAQ said.
The Verdict: True. Logistical issues require a gradual enactment of health-care reform.