It was two years ago today that President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, after months of heated political conflict and decades of attempts to build a health care system that ensured everyone had access to care.
While much of the bill has yet to be implemented, the numbers are already impressive: 5.1 million seniors paying less for prescription drugs, 2.5 million more young people able to stay on their parents’ plan if they don’t have coverage of their own, broader access to preventative care and the end of discrimination against women in insurance pricing.
These aren’t just points on a graph—they’re real people, people like the Josephson family of Jacksonville, Florida, who were surprised they were able to get coverage for their two-year-old son’s eye condition. As the Huffington Post’s Jeffrey Young reports:
Two years later, health care reform has had real and profound effects on some Americans. Insurance companies can’t deny coverage to sick children, young adults can stay on parents’ workplace plans until they turn 26, people with pre-existing medical conditions now have a fallback plan when they can’t find insurance anywhere else, and senior citizens are paying less for prescription drugs.
In a long, comprehensive piece, Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff points out that there’s another aspect to the Affordable Care Act that’s already underway: a major reform in how health care gets delivered so that costs are lower and quality is higher.
It includes 45 changes to how doctors deliver health care — and how patients pay for it. These reforms, if successful, will move the country’s health system away from one that pays for volume and toward one that pays for value. The White House wants to see providers behave more like Baptist Health Systems, rewarding health care that is both less costly and more effective.
Over the next two years, we’ll see even more benefits of the Affordable Care Act kick in.
Working America members have long pointed to access to health care as one of their top priorities, and they worked hard across the country to get the Affordable Care Act passed. Through phone calls, rallies, letters, and Congressional visits, we managed to overcome the multi-million dollar lobbying campaigns and get the Affordable Care Act passed. It’s important to keep up the effort to make sure politicians don’t neglect or undermine our health care.
Next week, the Supreme Court will consider challenges to the law. For millions of uninsured people, this will be a decision of historic importance. We’ll be watching closely, too see if the major progress we’ve made in the past two years gets reversed—or whether we can move forward with the promise of making affordable, quality health care available to everyone.
Photo from Creative Commons, via Talk Radio News Service on Flickr.