Commentary: Health care reforms are already underway

This seems to be a summer of discontent when it comes to the national health care reform law, signed by President Barack Obama on March 23. People grumble that they haven't seen results from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Many Americans seem to have little memory or the patience of earlier generations. For example, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Social Security into law in 1935, it called for the first monthly retirement checks to go out in 1942 — a seven-year lag. Congress later accelerated that to 1940 — still a five-year lag.

Today, while major provisions of the new health law don't take effect until 2014 — it will take some time to set up exchanges where people can shop for insurance, for example — many do take effect much sooner. In fact, the law addresses two big issues right now, this month:

Small businesses: Most large firms are able to cover their employees. But California has a higher proportion of small businesses than the nation and less than half are able to offer insurance.

The law offers an incentive to provide coverage. Small businesses with up to 25 employees and average wages of less than $50,000 can get tax credits of up to 35 percent of the cost of providing insurance.

How many firms could qualify in our area? In the 1st Congressional District (Rep. Mike Thompson), 15,700; the 2nd (Rep. Wally Herger), 14,000; in the 3rd (Rep. Dan Lungren), 13,200; in the 4th (Rep. Tom McClintock), 19,500; and in the 5th (Rep. Doris Matsui), 12,700.

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