Letter: ACA marks 10-year anniversary
We now are at the 10-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, which has provided medical insurance to more than 25 million people and may play a crucial role for those needing hospitalization during the coronavirus crisis. Obamacare is as popular as it has ever been, according to new numbers from the latest Wall Street Journal national poll.
As a result of the ACA, critical coverage and equity gaps have narrowed. While we have more work to do to increase coverage for all Americans, the passage of the ACA has expanded essential health benefits, like prescription drugs, preventative care and infant and maternal care.
The health care law has protected people with preexisting health conditions. Today about 133 million nonelderly Americans, with preexisting conditions — which include common problems like high blood pressure, behavioral health issues and even pregnancy — are protected from discrimination based on health status and medical history.
A growing body of evidence from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds:
• The ACA’s Medicaid expansion has improved access to care, utilization of services, the affordability of care and financial security among the low-income population.
• A positive association between increased insurance coverage and the likelihood of getting preventative care, early-stage cancer diagnosis and treatment for substance abuse.
The National Bureau of Economic Research has found that:
• “Substantially reduced mortality rates” among older, low-income adults in the states that expanded Medicaid (per the ACA mechanisms).
• Death rates dropped in the states that expanded Medicaid, saving 19,200 lives over four years. Had all 50 states expanded the program, 15,600 further deaths would have been averted.
The coronavirus crisis may cause an enrollment increase in the marketplace established by former President Barack Obama’s health care law because lower wage workers qualify for the biggest financial assistance for health insurance. Access to health care has been a priority for Americans as the coronavirus spreads. Having coverage and access to care is now essential to people in ways that weren’t before the outbreak.
On this anniversary we are reminded that the ACA is not perfect, and as a nation, we need to continue to make health care accessible and available to all who live here. It is only a beginning in the fight to meet the health care needs of all Americans.
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