“Obamacare,” as conservatives have dubbed it, is currently under question at the Supreme Court. What do you expect to come from this case?
The Supreme Court will not announce its decision on the Affordable Care Act until June, but nevertheless that has not stopped the multitude of speculation.
Depending on where you get your news, the results may vary and the predictions cover the spectrum of positive to negative. But despite the uncertainty, one thing is clear—the Supreme Court’s decision will mark a historic point in our nation’s efforts to reform our healthcare system.
But despite the eventual ruling, the momentum is in the favor of reform. The American people have already started to reap the benefits of healthcare reform that have swung the balance of power back to patients—and away from insurance companies. Therefore, no matter what the Supreme Court decides, I believe it will be difficult to turn back the clocks of progress.
Just look at some of what the Affordable Care Act has done in the last two years to help Americans stay healthy: 86 million people have received one or more free preventive services, such as check-ups and cancer screenings, and 105 million Americans have had a lifetime limit on their coverage eliminated. For young adults up to the age of 26, an additional 2.5 million now have health insurance.
For the Central Coast this has translated to 27,000 children and 110,000 adults having access to preventive care, and 7,400 students and young adults having health insurance. To assist local businesses, the Affordable Care Act has provided 460 small businesses with tax credits to help maintain or expand coverage for their employees.
For seniors struggling with higher medical costs, the law has provided 4,900 seniors in the Central Coast area with prescription drug discounts worth $3.2 million, an average discount of $650 per senior.
Another area that has caused worry and pain for many families—getting health coverage despite having preexisting health conditions—is no longer an issue. As a result, children with preexisting conditions can no longer be denied coverage by health providers—providing many parents with a deep sense of relief.
In addition, the consumer protection provisions of the Affordable Care Act have ended some of the worst abuses of health insurers. These provisions have helped protect Americans from excessive rate increases by limiting the amount of money that health insurers can spend on administrative expenses and profits, and requiring health insurers to post and justify rate increases of 10 percent or more.
By 2014, virtually all of the important benefits of the Affordable Care Act will come into effect. When the law is fully implemented, people who now lack health insurance will receive coverage for the first time, and those with private insurance coverage will no longer face annual limits on coverage. And folks who buy their health insurance on the private market will be able to shop for health insurance in transparent and competitive marketplaces called exchanges, where insurers will be required to publish the prices and benefits of their policies in simple, plain language.
Along with all these benefits, the Affordable Care Act will reduce the federal deficit by more than $100 billion over the next decade and by more than $1 trillion in the decade after that.
These are the facts. The Affordable Care Act has shaken up the establishment and changed the healthcare industry.
We have to respect what the Supreme Court decides. But change has already occurred, and Americans have already seen many of the benefits of reform. Even if the healthcare law is struck down, or partially struck down, we have a responsibility to return to find legislative solutions to ensure that Americans do not see the clock turned back on progress.