In our New Year’s glow and pipeline rally prep, we’ve overlooked some major developments in health reform.  While Congressional conservatives already have a debate and vote scheduled on repealing health reform, some major pieces of the legislation have gone into effect.

Kaiser Health has a wonderful color chart that breaks down provision implementation by year. Lucky for us, 2011 has 21 new provisions.  We picked some of our favorites:

No more “Donut”: Starting Jan. 1, the Medicare Part D donut hole is beginning to close. Enrollees now get a 50% discount on brand-name prescriptions.  The donut hole was part of conservatives’ hair-brained scheme to superficially reduce the cost of this Medicare expansion, but it’s left a lot of citizens in the lurch.  As of Saturday, it’s the beginning of the end for this political hackery.

80% on Actual Care: Insurance companies must spend 80% of premiums on actual health care. If not, the company owes customers rebates which will be doled out in 2012.  Ever wonder how insurance CEOs got such nice bonuses?

Medicare Prevention: Medicare cost-sharing for preventative services that are rated A or B is eliminated.  Medicare can now cover personalized prevention plans, including a comprehensive health risk assessment.  As our grandmothers said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  It’s certainly true for our pocketbooks.

State Money: Three-year grants are available to states to develop comprehensive healthy lifestyle programs for Medicaid enrollees.  It’s one of the many opportunities for states to get money from the feds to help implement the health care law.  We don’t know if Nebraska will apply or not (but we remain sceptical considering the poor leadership Gov. Heineman has shown on this issue, especially involving consumers in planning the state exchange).

DHHS Quality Control: The Department of Health and Human Services must send an annual report to Congress with strategies to improve health service delivery, patient outcomes and overall population health.  This gives the system more accountability by providing measurable goals.

The More You Know: This one must be implemented by March 23, but it’s provides a heavy dose of personal responsibility.  Chain restaurants and vending machines must now disclose nutritional info on their menus.  You’ll think twice about that Starbucks peppermint white chocolate mocha with whipped cream.

We expect a hefty backlash for any conservatives that try to take down these common sense provisions that improve the system which helps us all enjoy healthier, HAPPIER lives.  Every time a conservative screams “repeal” we hear what they are really saying, “Leave the big insurance companies alone to make profits while leaving behind millions of Americans who are paying their premiums only to be told they can’t get the care they need when they are sick.”

Repeal is just another word for coward.  If conservatives are serious about fixing the very broken and broke health care system, then stop with the campaign rhetoric so we can all roll-up our sleeves and get to work.