America spends nearly $2.5 trillion a year, or 17.6% of GDP on healthcare, yet more than forty-nine million American citizens are uninsured, with over 7 million being Californians.
Over the last few years, our country has engaged in a divisive, but necessary debate over how to reform the health insurance system. Our health care is incredibly personal to all of us. And for that reason, the national dialogue has been emotional as we discussed how we access providers, where we get care, and how we pay for these reforms as the changes have tangible effects on our lives and the economic vitality of the country.
After over a year of debate, the President signed the historic health care reform package into law on March 23, 2010. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) offers affordable health care to 95 percent of all Americans, including the millions of Americans who lack health insurance today. Rep. Schiff voted in favor of the legislation to reform the American health care system as the changes will substantially improve health insurance industry practices, extend quality coverage to millions of Americans, and hold down national, public, and private health care costs. The ACA will provide stable coverage that cannot be taken away, even when Americans change jobs, and will provide bolstered and additional insurance choices in an invigorated and competitive marketplace.
Health care reform is intrinsically linked to the continuing economic recovery. The Affordable Care Act responds to the challenges of the current economic climate in a fiscally responsible manner, reducing the deficit by over $1.3 trillion over the next two decades, and ensuring the economic security of our children. By passing comprehensive health care legislation, Congress prevented a fiscal scenario that would strangle federal and state budgets, and force legislators to choose between unprecedented tax hikes, overwhelming deficits, or drastic cuts in the federal and state budgets. Access to affordable, quality, stable health care is the key to a productive work force, small business innovation, and the economic, as well as health security of American families.
Immediate benefits of the Affordable Health Care Act:
Help for Families
- This legislation makes it illegal to deny health coverage to 15,000 constituents in the 28th district with pre-existing conditions (including disabilities), ensure that the costs of health care won't threaten their family’s finances, that their doctor is paid for making them well and not ordering unnecessary tests, and that their health care premiums are spent on actual care, not paying for paperwork and red tape. Insurance companies are now required to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on covering medical services.
Help for Young Adults
- Young adults, the largest uninsured group in America, can now stay on their parents’ health plan until their 26th birthday. It is estimated that up to 1.2 million young adults will take advantage of this benefit.
Help for Women
- Women will no longer be denied coverage or charged more for such “pre-existing conditions” as breast or cervical cancer, pregnancy, having had a C-section, or having been a victim of domestic violence.
- Reforms will end “gender rating” a practice in which insurance companies charged women substantially higher premiums than men for the same coverage.
- Women in new plans will benefit from free coverage of critical preventative services such as mammograms and colonoscopies as of 2010.
Help for Seniors
- Seniors will now receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs if they enter the Medicare Part D ‘donut hole’ coverage gap – a discount that grows until the ‘donut hole’ is fully closed in 2020. These seniors will save on average more than $500 in 2011 and more than $3,000 in 2020 on their drug costs.
- Seniors will benefit from the extension of the solvency of Medicare Trust Fund from 2012 to 2029. Reforms strengthen Medicare by reducing waste and increasing efficiency without a reduction in benefits.
- Free annual wellness visits are now provided under Medicare as of January 1, 2011.
Help for Businesses
- Small businesses will benefit from $40 billion in tax credits to help them offer employee health insurance coverage. Over 4 million businesses are eligible to receive tax credits that will cover 35 percent of the cost of coverage should they choose to offer coverage for their employees.
- Health insurance exchanges will make it possible for small business owners to use the bulk purchasing power of millions to buy policies more cheaply.
- Affordable plans in the health insurance exchanges will have a guaranteed set of minimum benefits, eliminating fine print surprises and gaps in coverage.
Learn more about the Affordable Health Care Act: