Have a Heart for Kids Day rally, 2015

A gift to Washington’s children: the Affordable Care Act celebrates its first birthday

Christina 03/24/11

This week we get to mark a great milestone: the first birthday of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But instead of collecting presents, the ACA is instead giving thousands of Washington kids the gift of affordable and accountable health care that can better meet their needs.

In the year since the ACA’s passage, there have been a number of milestones that we can take pride in. Here are just a few of those important provisions that are already benefiting kids in our state:

Children have greater health care security than ever before. Kids can no longer be denied health coverage as the result of a pre-existing condition. In Washington alone this ensures that 106,000 kids will have access to coverage when they need it most. And individuals up to age 26 can be covered on their parents’ insurance, benefitting nearly 65,000 young people in this state.

Robust federal funding to improve our state’s health infrastructure. Washington has already secured millions in dedicated funding, including:

-Consumer Assistance Grants of nearly $650,000 that will help individuals resolve health coverage disputes and educate Washington residents about the benefits of the ACA;

-Home Visiting grants that total $1.3 million through September 2012;

-Exchange Planning and Establishment Grants totaling almost $1 million in order to develop and implement Washington’s Health Insurance Exchange.

No more financial barriers for preventive care. Co-payments and co-insurance for preventive health care, such as well-child checks and immunizations, have been eliminated under the ACA for children, pregnant women, seniors and people with disabilities. Preventive health care is important to catch health problems early so that temporary health conditions don’t develop into lifelong struggles. Preventive care also saves millions of dollars a year in health care costs.

State policymakers have been making strong efforts to incorporate the ACA into state law. Governor Gregoire and policymakers have worked since the law’s passage to improve health care access and reduce costs through the provisions in the ACA. Lawmakers are also working on legislation that requires private health insurers to provide coverage to persons under the age of 19, regardless of pre-existing conditions.This will help families tailor their health coverage to best meet their needs.

Apple Health for Kids will remain strong. Washington kids and families can continue to rely on Apple Health for Kids because the ACA sustains the Children’s Health Insurance Program through 2019, with guaranteed funding through 2015.

Over the next few years, we will see a number of new efforts that will improve the quality of health care, lower costs, and work to eliminate health care inequalities. The ACA will move us toward a more affordable and accountable health care system for all people in Washington, and we should keep up the work to implement it. In the meantime, Washington kids are already benefiting from pieces that are already in place.

Not bad for just one year’s work.

For more information about the ACA and how it can benefit you, your family, or your small business, please visit HealthCare.gov.