This week marks the one year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed by Congress and signed into law on March 23, 2010. While the new Republican majority in Congress attempts to repeal the bill, people in Virginia and across the nation are already enjoying the benefits provided under the new law.
With this law, we are finally able to put the interests of the American people ahead of insurance companies’ bottom lines. Under the ACA, insurance companies must now spend at least 80% of premium dollars on health care, rather than on executive salaries and overhead. The law also protects consumers by forcing transparency on insurance premium costs and giving state governments new tools to crack down on firms who sharply increase health premiums.
An improved health care system is critical not only for the health of our nation’s people, but our nation’s economy. The ACA looked at ways to put an end to unsustainable health care costs and the impact they have on our long-term economic growth. Since the ACA was signed into law, more than 1.5 million private sector jobs have been created. In addition, the Affordable Care Act is expected to reduce the deficit by $210 billion over the next decade.
To allow a smooth transition under the Affordable Care Act to a more fair, more affordable health care system for all Americans, benefits and regulations are implemented in a series of phases. Insurance companies are now banned from denying coverage to children based on pre-existing conditions; young adults up to age 26 can stay on their parent’s insurance plans; and Medicare Part D beneficiaries falling into the so-called “donut hole” are receiving a 50% discount on brand name prescriptions.
The ACA has already assisted Virginians by:
• Providing $59.6 million to state governments to hold down premiums, improve Medicare system, and strengthen public health and prevention efforts
• Issuing tax-free rebates to Virginia’s 84,285 seniors who fall into the Medicare Part D “donut hole”
• Protecting 438,000 Virginia children from being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition
• Ensuring roughly 31,000 young adults under the age of 26 can remain on their parents’ insurance policies
2014 and 2020 will bring a host of new benefits, including a complete ban on annual and lifetime dollar limits on health coverage; the complete closure of the Medicare Part D “donut hole”; and by prohibiting insurance companies from denying any American of any age health coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
While the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, it takes major, concrete steps towards making our health care system work for millions of Americans. One year ago this week, I joined my colleagues in an historic vote for comprehensive health care reform. I remain proud of that vote, and the positive impact the bill has had on our nation’s fiscal and physical health.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.