Last week the Supreme Court reaffirmed what Democrats and President Obama have known for two years; the Affordable Care Act stands on firm constitutional grounds.
Passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2009 represented a giant leap forward to not only make our health care system work better for Americans of any age, race, gender, or income level, but to rescue our economy from the suffocating grip of spiraling health care costs. We spend nearly 18 percent of our entire economy on health care – twice what every other industrialized nation pays. The Affordable Care Act will reduce our deficit while improving access to, and the quality of, care for all Americans.
Though some of the live-saving provisions will not be implemented until 2014, people across the country are already seeing benefits in the Affordable Care Act, including:
• Providing more than 86 million Americans coverage of preventive care free of charge, like mammograms for women and wellness visits for seniors;
• Reforms to prevent insurance companies from canceling your policy, deny your child coverage due to a pre-existing condition, or charge women more than men;
• Requiring insurance companies to spend no more than 20 percent of premium dollars on administrative costs. Owing to this reform, nearly 13 million Americans will receive a rebate this summer;
• Saving 5.3 million seniors and people with disabilities an average of over $600 on prescription drugs in the “donut hole” in Medicare coverage, $2.3 billion in total;
• Provisions to strengthen and protect Medicare and extend its solvency by reducing fraud; and
• Allowing 6.6 million young adults to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26, including 3.1 million young people who are newly insured.
Beginning in 2014, 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance will have the opportunity for quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from.
The Supreme Court’s ruling affirmed that the individual mandate is constitutional. The federal government has the constitutional authority to penalize individuals for failing to have health insurance. This requirement will reduce premium costs by eliminating those ‘freeloaders’ who do not have health care coverage, get hurt and then pass their Emergency Room and other uncompensated medical costs onto those of us with insurance.
Though the Supreme Court ruling provides assurance as the Administration phases in life-saving reforms including a ban on insurance companies denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions, Republicans in Congress have already stated they will continue their efforts to dismantle critical provisions of the Affordable Care Act – beginning next week. I will continue fighting these efforts in the House of Representatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Washington has been struggling to deliver meaningful health care reform for more than six decades. Following this ruling, the United States can finally see its way closer to delivering on that promise for all Americans.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.