Health care costs can be one of the highest expenses in America – contributing significantly to why so many people declare bankruptcy. This law ensures you have affordable coverage that protects from unfair insurance practices.
On day one of the 111th Congress, House Representatives introduced a bipartisan proposal. Pro-life Democrats like Bart Stupak threatened not to vote in support of it unless tough language on abortion was included; nonetheless, it passed without issue.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly referred to as Obamacare or simply ACA, was signed into law by President Obama in March 2010 as part of an ambitious health reform law package passed by Congress and designed to expand access to quality, affordable health insurance across America while safeguarding consumers from unfair industry practices.
The Affordable Care Act expands coverage by making it accessible to more Americans through private companies and state-based exchanges, and by adding millions more people to Medicaid. Furthermore, all health plans must cover certain clinical preventive services without cost sharing requirements; additionally incentives have been put in place to promote strong primary care through increased medical school slots for primary care students and bonus payments for Medicare practitioners.
The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurers from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions and lifetime and annual limits on health benefits, among other protections. Funding of the ACA includes new taxes and fees such as an excise tax on high-cost “Cadillac” health plans, fees on medical devices, as well as penalties for individuals and businesses that do not secure coverage.
The ACA’s Impact
The Affordable Care Act is making life better for Americans in many ways, such as adding money into families’ pockets, increasing demand, bringing down unemployment and helping alleviate poverty today. Furthermore, having affordable health insurance has significantly reduced catastrophic medical costs research has revealed.
The Affordable Care Act has ensured millions of patients have affordable coverage by expanding public Medicaid and creating the Health Insurance Marketplace where individuals can purchase private health plans. Furthermore, it has banned lifetime and annual dollar coverage limitations, preexisting condition exclusions and excessive waiting periods; set up internal and external impartial appeals processes; as well as required health plans to dedicate 80%-85% of premiums towards actual care delivery.
The Affordable Care Act has made health insurance more accessible to families through tax credits, making health plans cover maternity coverage by default and making preventive services, like breastfeeding support services and supplies, annual well-woman visits and screening for cervical cancer, HIV, interpersonal violence and substance use disorders accessible without cost sharing arrangements.
The ACA’s Resilience
The Affordable Care Act was widely supported among the American public, and its supporters remained undaunted by repeated efforts to repeal or undermine it. They rallied at town hall meetings and in streets against repeal attempts, as well as filling Congress halls to press their case.
State legislatures and governors, like Michigan’s Rick Snyder, embraced the Affordable Care Act as law of the land and worked to make it work for their constituents – this pragmatic, problem-solving approach has proved essential to its survival in an unpredictable environment.
Federal financial assistance remains available to purchase health insurance on ACA marketplaces, while Medicaid expansion continues in 34 states and D.C. The Affordable Care Act’s resilience has been further boosted by its indelible coverage once established; Americans hold firm to their belief that everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health care.
The ACA’s Future
As the Affordable Care Act approaches its 10th anniversary, its provisions continue to provide affordable health coverage. Yet many of those gains remain vulnerable pending the Supreme Court’s final verdict regarding Trump administration lawsuit seeking to overturn ACA.
AMA remains committed to supporting key provisions of the Affordable Care Act that align with its policy goals and offer opportunities for meaningful health system reform. We stand with patients and advocates as they fight back against efforts by the Trump administration to dismantle this landmark legislation.
Changes to the Affordable Care Act could both increase enrollment and reduce costs, with various incremental modifications. One such change would be changing the current structure of premium tax credits from tiered income-based payments to flat credits that provide greater financial incentives to enroll in marketplaces. Furthermore, RAND analysis indicates that increasing subsidies for those earning between 400 percent and 100 percent of poverty line could decrease uninsured rates by 1.2 million at a cost to federal government of $6 billion.