The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is some of the most important legislation to affect Americans in years. While dissatisfaction existed among some about what was left out or what must still be modified in the bill, the important thing to realize is that as it stands, the bill benefits Americans in a major way.
Where our state leaders hold the most responsibility in implementing successful reform for all is in the creation of state exchanges. Think of exchanges as a large marketplaces where those who do not qualify for medicaid, lose their job, have no insurance through their employers, or even small businesses can purchase insurance at a fair rate.
Governor Heineman has not lead on this issue. The ACA allows states to choose between how the exchange will be run, with a separate federal entity as an option. It's in Nebraskans' best interest to advocate for a state-run organization so that we avoid the problem that got us here: a free acting insurance sector prone to taking advantage of hard working Americans. A state run exchange is the best way we can confidently guarantee that citizens will have a fair shot at purchasing reasonably priced and effective health care.
Learn more about state exchanges: The Nebraska League of Women Voters is hosting a forum at St. Paul's United Methodist in Lincoln (1144 M St) from 7-8:30pm on January 5th. Experts from Nebraska Appleseed and AARP will lead the public discussion.
The benefits of health care reform certainly do not end at state exchanges. In fact, you are benefiting already from the law. Here are some important things to remember about reform:
- No more lifetime or annual spending limits.
- Now: No denial of health insurance for children. 2014: NO ONE may be denied health insurance.
- Insurers no longer allowed to drop coverage should you get sick.
- Young adults may stay on parents' plan until age 26.
- Seniors who reach gap in prescription drug purchases are eligible for a 50% discount on prescription drugs. Come 2020, the gap (or "doughnut hole" as it is referred) will be completely phased out.
- Many tax credits available to small businesses to promote employer driven health insurance.
- Nebraska family health insurance policies could be slashed by as much as $3,331 a year with individual policy savings ranging from $1,021 to $1,234. These savings would apply to those who purchase in the exchange market created by the bill.
- In a time where America looks to balance its budget, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act lowers the deficit by $132 billion in the first 10 years and $1.3 trillion in the following 10.