Friday, March 22, 2013

The Affordable Care Act turns three

Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of President Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. At President Obama's side was Seattle-native Marcelas Owens - a tireless advocate for health reform. Like thousands of Americans year, the 11-year-old boy’s mother died of a treatable disease.
Last year, Governor Gregoire signed into law House Bill 2319 – legislation to ensure that our state was ready to fully implement health care reform. The measure was introduced and championed by HealthCare and Wellness Chair Eileen Cody.
Speaking at the time of passage, Rep. Cody said “Health coverage for all has been a value of our state for years. So we have historically been in the lead – whether it’s covering all kids, establishing the Basic Health Plan or passing consumer protections for patients. This is the next step.”
Governor Gregoire signs HB 2319 into law. She is joined by House Democrats
Eileen Cody, Laurie Jinkins and Speaker Frank Chopp

The ACA has already made critical improvements to our health care system. However, the best is still yet to come.
Beginning next year, the ACA offers us the chance to cover 385,000 Washingtonians making less than $15,000/year through the expansion of the Medicaid program. Over the next two years, Medicaid Expansion is estimated to save our state about $275 million. The caveat being that the legislature has to accept the federal dollars to do this.
Speaking to Medicaid Expansion earlier this session, Rep. Dawn Morrell said "I think we have to get past the rhetoric and to the plain facts... It's the right thing to do."
Also coming in 2014, all Washingtonians will be able to utilize the health benefits exchange to shop for insurance. While shopping for coverage, you will have access to a web-based system and professional advisors trained to help you select the plan that is right for you.
A few additional ACA improvements already in effect or coming soon:
  • Young adults who may be looking for work during these tough economic times can stay on their parents’ plan until they find a job or reach the age of 26 – whichever comes first.
  • Our health care system finally incentivizes preventative care by doing away with out-of-pocket costs for preventative care. Treating folks before their condition worsens isn’t only the right thing to do, it saves us money.
  • Starting in 2014, no one can be denied health care coverage if they’re sick. The ACA also removes any caps on lifetime benefits that may have been in place – common sense safeguards that will prevent a Washingtonian from losing everything when they get sick.
  • Also coming in 2014, all health plans will be required to cover essential benefits. These essential benefits include maternity care, mental health treatment, prescriptions and pediatric care.