Affordable Care Act overview
The Affordable Care Act is the nation's health reform law enacted in March 2010. It contains numerous provisions designed to expand health coverage to 30 million Americans; increase benefits and lower costs for consumers; provide new funding for public health and prevention; bolster our health care and public health workforce and infrastructure; foster innovation and quality in our system, and more.
Many Americans have misgivings about the Affordable Care Act. A CNN/ORC poll conducted in September 2013 showed support for the law at 39 percent, down from 51 percent in January 2013. Opponents say the country can't afford the ACA. They say it won't cut the cost of health care, but will expand the deficit, weaken the economy and cause employers to cut jobs. The Republican-led House of Representatives has voted dozens of times to repeal all or part of the law, but those efforts have gone nowhere in the Senate, where Democrats have the majority. President Barack Obama has postponed implementation of the so-called employer mandate until 2015, but shows no indication he will back down on what many consider to be the signature accomplishment of his first term.
The law consists of two pieces of legislation: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (HCERA). Jointly they are referred to as the Affordable Care Act or ACA. The information below comes from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
How the ACA may affect Washington
Because of the Affordable Care Act, the 85 percent of Washington residents who have insurance will have more coverage choices than before. And for the 15 percent of Washington residents who don't have insurance, or Washington families and small businesses that buy their coverage but aren't happy with it, change is coming.
Soon, the new online Health Insurance Marketplace will provide families and small businesses who currently don't have insurance, or are looking for a better deal, a new way to find health coverage that fits their needs and their budgets.
Open enrollment in the Marketplace starts Oct. 1, with coverage starting as soon as Jan. 1, 2014. But Washington families and small businesses can visit HealthCare.gov right now to find the information they need to prepare for open enrollment.
The ACA provides Washington:
Cheaper prescription drugs for people with Medicare
$35,999,334 in total savings for 60,209 seniors, averaging $597.91 in savings per person in 2011
Free preventive services
1,239,000 people and 653,723 seniors with Medicare get preventive services for free
No more lifetime limits on care
2,427,000 people no longer have a lifetime limit on their care
Health insurance on your parents' plan
52,186 more young adults under age 26 now have insurance on their parents' plan
New rules on how insurers spend premiums
1,788,000 people protected by the 80/20 rule that requires insurers to spend 80 percent of premiums on care and quality
Coverage through a pre-existing condition insurance plan
708 people who were uninsured because of a pre-existing condition now have coverage
Affordable Insurance Exchange
$23,938,956 to help states build new marketplaces where consumers will have the same kinds of choices as members of Congress
Money for public health
$19,100,000 in grants to improve public health
Community health centers
$59,000,000 to support and expand community health centers