By JAY CARNEY
Helping ordinary Americans and businesses take advantage of the benefits of the health care law is a top priority for the president and Democrats in Congress. The Affordable Care Act does more than just give millions of uninsured Americans access to health insurance. It helps Americans who already have insurance feel more secure in their coverage, ensuring it’ll be there when they need it. This is a pocketbook issue for many middle-class families.
In Idaho, the benefits of the health care law are real, and the repeal plan pushed by Republicans in Congress would undermine or eliminate them across the board, reversing critical consumer protections and driving up costs for millions of Americans. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, in Idaho:
l 367,000 individuals on private insurance have gained coverage for at least one free preventive health care service such as a mammogram, birth control, or an immunization in 2011 and 2012. In the first eleven months of 2013 alone, an additional 111,400 people with Medicare have received at least one preventive service at no out of pocket cost.
The president and Democrats in Congress are committed to improving the health care law.
l The up to 662,000 individuals with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, cancer, or diabetes—including up to 99,000 children—will no longer have to worry about being denied coverage or charged higher prices because of their health status or history.
l Approximately 367,000 Idahoans have gained expanded mental health and substance use disorder benefits and/or federal parity protections.
l 223,000 uninsured Idahoans will have new health insurance options through Medicaid or private health plans in the Marketplace.
l As a result of new policies that make sure premium dollars work for the consumer, not just the insurer, in the past year insurance companies have sent rebates averaging $152 per family to approximately 28,000 consumers.
l In the first 10 months of 2013, 12,100 seniors and people with disabilities have saved on average $701 on prescription medications as the health care law closes Medicare’s so-called “donut hole.”
17,000 young adults have gained health insurance because they can now stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26.
l Individuals no longer have to worry about having their health benefits cut off after they reach a lifetime limit on benefits, and starting in January, 566,000 Idahoans will no longer have to worry about annual limits, either.
l Health centers have received $56,583,000 to provide primary care, establish new sites, and renovate existing centers to expand access to quality health care. Idaho has approximately 75 health center sites, which served about 130,000 individuals in 2012.
Moving forward, the president and Democrats in Congress are committed to improving the health care law and fixing it when the need arises. Every day more uninsured Americans are signing up for plans as the website gets faster and more people with insurance are benefiting from the law.
Yet instead of working to fix the law, Republicans in Congress have tried and failed to repeal it more than 40 times. Repealing the law completely would raise premiums, allow discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, force women to pay for preventive services like mammograms, and eliminate discounts seniors get on prescription drugs.
It’s time for Republicans in Congress to stop refighting old political battles over health care, because the real cost of repeal will hit home for many hardworking families in Idaho.
Jay Carney is the White House press secretary.