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Where are we two years after health care act?

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Washington, DC, April 17, 2012 | comments

Two years ago this week, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. Some dubbed this an historic act. Others claimed it was a socialist takeover of our health care system. But many expressed to me their uncertainty as to what the law actually did and how it would impact them or their family. Two years later, let’s take a look at some of the facts.

Some 5,900 young adults (26 and under) in the Capital Region have health insurance today who did not have it two years ago. Nationwide, over 2.5 million young people have obtained insurance coverage.

Over 10,000 seniors in our area have received prescription drug discounts, saving over $580 each. Across the country, more than 3.6 million seniors have already saved more than $2.1 billion on their prescription drugs since enactment.

Seniors have also been able to capitalize on access to preventative care and services without any co-pay, coinsurance or deductible. That has meant nearly 80,000 seniors have received free services in our area alone — improving wellness, flu shots, detecting high cholesterol levels, heart screenings, mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, colorectal and prostrate screenings, and much more — at no out-of-pocket cost to them.

In addition, the law ended the most egregious insurance company abuses, including denying children health insurance because of pre-existing conditions like asthma, obesity, diabetes, heart disease or cancer. Some estimates suggest as many as 33,000 children with pre-existing conditions are now protected against insurer denials in the Capital Region alone.

There are also 500,000 residents with private health insurance coverage who are protected against being dropped if they become ill and 250,000 people in health care plans that previously had lifetime limits but no longer do.

All these changes deserve scrutiny and review, and certainly nobody would claim that the Affordable Care Act is perfect. We demanded perfection from the bill, but settled for progress.

However, before we call the law a “death knell for freedom” or make pledges to “get rid of job-killing Obamacare,” let’s be honest with ourselves and one another. Let’s examine the facts, review the intentions and then make any necessary adjustments. A thoughtful democracy requires nothing less.

Paul D. Tonko

Washington, D.C.

The writer is a member of Congress.

Read more: http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2012/mar/27/0327_print/

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