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This Friday is the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Like Social Security and Medicare before it, important laws like the ACA inspire vigorous debate.
While there are lots of opinions about health care reform, there’s no disputing its benefits for children across the country and here at home.
Today, thanks to the ACA, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with conditions like diabetes or asthma. Children have a better shot at starting productive adult lives thanks to the ACA’s guarantee that they can get health care through their parents’ insurance policies until age 26.
Washington kids also scored a major victory because the ACA preserves and extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). A key part of Apple Health for Kids, CHIP ensures that children can get affordable, comprehensive, high-quality health coverage. CHIP is an important program for families who are having a difficult time obtaining affordable health coverage because it’s not available through their employer, or because rising costs have put it out of reach; Apple Health for Kids is a vital resource for ensuring that kids are able to get the care they need to be healthy.
The ACA helps more than children; the gains for Washingtonians of all ages are impressive. For instance, 1.4 million state residents, including more than 360,000 kids, won’t see their coverage run out under an insurer’s lifetime limit on health care. That means a child who beats leukemia at age 8 can still get the care she needs if it returns at age 20. And more than 730,000 of our neighbors will lead healthier lives because of the ACA’s guarantee of preventive care like mammograms and flu shots with no out-of-pocket costs.
The two-year-old law doesn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to health reform; it frees up states to customize health coverage to suit their residents’ needs best.
Here in Washington, House Bill 2319 makes some important decisions on how the ACA will be tailored. The bill sets guidelines for the regulation of the new Exchange, a health insurance marketplace offering an array of plans that will be more accessible and easier to understand. The bill also begins to look at who will be able to act as “navigators” – people who help individuals discover their coverage options. We have encouraged the Governor to sign this bill, which has passed the House and Senate.
Next week, when the U.S. Supreme Court begins to hear oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act, we should all keep in mind the law’s many benefits. Two years after its passage, our state has taken some good first steps. Let’s make sure that we continue on a path that leads to greater health for all.