Six Month Anniversary Gives Us Ample Reasons to Thank Congress for Health Reform
September 23 marked the six month “anniversary” of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the landmark health reform bill signed into law on March 23. To coincide with this milestone, key provisions in the law went into effect that day. They include:
- Adult children can retain health insurance coverage on their parents’ plan until age 26
- Insurance companies can no longer place lifetime limits on health benefits
- Insurance companies can no longer retroactively rescind health coverage
- Many adults and children with pre-existing health conditions who were denied coverage in the past may now enroll in state health insurance plans
And these are just a few of the provisions that will significantly change health care in America over the next few years. Beginning in 2011, community health centers will see dramatic increases in funding so that will eventually expand access to care for an additional 20 million people in underserved communities. In 2014, everyone below 133 percent of the federal poverty line will be eligible for Medicaid, which will provide coverage for 16 million uninsured.
While many of us at RESULTS were disappointed that health reform did not include a national health program or a public health insurance option, the above accomplishments (and others in reform) are still historic. Millions of low-income Americans will get coverage where before they had no help. Millions of people will get primary care services in a doctor’s office, not the emergency room. Millions of people whose only crime was getting cancer or hepatitis or sickle-cell anemia will get insurance after years of needless denials. And you helped make this happen. But for your advocacy, many of these reforms would still just be ideas. Now they are the law of the land.
But our work is not over. Opponents of reform are bound and determined to turn back the clock and even some who supported reform are now running away from it. We cannot let our leaders forget that enacting reform, however imperfect, was the right thing to do. And that thank them for passing health reform. As we head into a heated election season, both supporters and opponents of reform need to see that their constituents stand by health reform.