March 23rd marks the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and while many on the “right” attack its passage as being an attempt to “socialize” America’s health care system and an affront to their personal freedom of choice to decide what’s best for them, it is important to remember what it will mean to millions of seniors, children, small business owners and the rest of us if the Affordable Care Act law is watered down or abolished.
For seniors, the ACA has meant that they will not have to worry about falling back into the prescription drug “donut hole.” It means keeping seniors healthy by giving them preventive care without a co-pay or a deductible. And it means that 32.5 million seniors received one or more free preventive care services, including an annual wellness visit. Screenings for bone density, diabetes and certain cancers were part of these wellness visits. All of which means that health problems can be detected and treated sooner.
For children, the ACA ends some of the worst insurance company abuses, such as denying children care because of a pre-existing condition. As many as 17 million children under the age of 18 have some type of pre-existing condition. It eliminates cost-sharing for preventive health services and requires insurers to cover, at no cost, comprehensive screenings and preventative care for children as defined by the “Bright Futures” standards issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics, including well-child visits. The ACA also extends funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through September 30, 2015. Without the Affordable Care Act, many states would have cut funding to this program that provides critical services to children.
For small business owners, the ACA lowers health costs for small businesses by allowing them to band together in health exchanges that will be created in each state. This will allow small business owners to receive the same rates as large companies, saving them on average 18 percent on premiums. The ACA also lowers the cost of providing health care by providing tax breaks to small businesses. Currently, 4 million small businesses have access to tax credits to help with the cost of health premiums. This in turn means that small businesses now have an opportunity to offer their employees coverage and they do not have to put the costs of providing health care over hiring more workers.
As for the rest of us the benefits provided by the Affordable Health Care Act may not be as obvious but they are no less significant. Individuals no longer need to feel “Job Locked” because of fears of losing health coverage due preexisting health conditions of themselves or loved ones. They will have access to quality care regardless, giving them the freedom and security to pursue any job that they may want, which in turn will help boost our economy. And beginning next year, the ACA will bar insurers from establishing lifetime coverage limits on the dollar value of coverage. In other words, if you have a catastrophic health event, insurance companies cannot cap payouts leaving individuals without coverage. Furthermore, the ACA has provided the government with the necessary tools to crack down on the waste, fraud and abuse of Medicare and Medicaid. In the past two years the government has recovered over $8 billion through fraud prevention and enforcement that has helped offset the cost of these programs for the American public.
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The Affordable Care Act works, today millions of Americans have access to affordable health cover that they did not have access to before. It must be protected from those that wish to play political games that will take away all the benefits that so many are currently receiving as a result of it.