On Wednesday, March 25, 2015, President Obama held a conference to speak about the accomplishments that the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) has achieved over the past five years, since March 23 was the law’s five year anniversary.
The president mentioned that the American Cancer Society was partnering with the Affordable Care Act, taking a more patient-centered approach to improve the care for cancer patients. According to the American Cancer Society’s website, the ACA does in fact benefit cancer patients specifically in six different ways.
- Through the ACA, no one can be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition, including cancer. In the past, preexisting illnesses disqualified many people from receiving health insurance, even if they were sick and required otherwise extremely expensive treatments.
- Immediately after the law was passed, seniors received $250 rebates who had hit the Medicare drug program coverage gap.
- No health plan can deny coverage to children up to the age of 19 years old, even if the child has a pre-existing condition such as cancer.
- Insurance plans will no longer be able to place dollar limitations to their coverage, so people who are sick with cancer no longer have to worry about not being able to get the treatments they require.
- No one can be dropped from their health insurance if they develop a sickness.
- Coverage is guaranteed and out-of-pocket costs are to be eliminated under the law in order to continue providing “proven preventive services.”
President Obama also remarked about Governor Markell (D-DE) whose goal was to have 80% of Delawarean residents be signed up for health insurance under the ACA. According to healthinsurance.org, 52% of all Delaware’s estimated 48,000 individuals have enrolled as of February 2015.
Obama also mentioned to the public that the Affordable Healthcare Act has “helped reduce hospital readmission rates dramatically.” The ACA has adopted the Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP), serves as a penalty program which requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to penalize hospitals with high readmission rates.
For Medicare patients, a readmission is classified as any patient that is admitted to a hospital after already being discharged within a 30 day period.
When the program first went into effect in October 2012, by August 2013, 2,225 hospitals had their CMS payments reduced because of their unnecessarily high readmission rates. The whole purpose of the program, according to CMS, is to provide better quality of care rather than quantity of care–reiterating the words of the President Obama.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “83 percent of Medicare patient admissions are projected to be in hospitals receiving either no readmission penalty or penalties of less than 1 percent.” Kaiser also found that readmission rates decreased by 2% for patients suffering from heart failure, heart attack, and pneumonia.
The Kaiser Family Foundation states, “CMS has estimated reductions in overall hospital readmissions (not specific to any initial diagnoses) totaling 150,000 fewer Medicare patient readmissions during the period between January 2012 and December 2013.” Concerning the decline, they found that the drops began to happen after Congress enacted the HRRP.
President Obama stated several perks of the Affordable Care Act, saying that it is “the end of discrimination against the sick of America.” The ACA features include that patients now under Medicare/Medicaid can no longer be charged more or denied coverage for a preexisting condition. This includes illnesses such as diabetes or cancer.
Another feature included in the law, is that women can no longer be charged more simply for being female.
Additionally, he shared how the law states that preventive care such as routine checkups, immunizations, and contraceptions now come with no additional out-of-pocket costs. Furthermore, he talked about how persons under the age of 26 can remain on their parents’ coverage plan(s).
Under the ACA, the president said that the law allows for buyers to purchase healthcare that is portable, rather than tied to their employer, which in turn can benefit the person who is looking to change up their careers or start a business.
Obama stated that so far, only 28 states have adopted to expand Medicaid for their citizens, even though all were given the option. Kaiser Family Foundation shows that 29 states (including Washington D.C.) have in fact, chosen to expand their respective state’s Medicaid.
Obama claimed that after 5 years of the ACA, more than 16 million uninsured Americans have been able to gain healthcare coverage. However, according to the ObamaCare Facts online website, by the end of the 2014 open enrollment period, “more than 15 million” who did not have health insurance are now covered. The president, perhaps, was rounding up.
Since the ACA has been in effect, the total percentage of uninsured adult American citizens has gone down from 18% to 13.4%, according to ObamaCare Facts.
President Obama also stated that in just over one year, “the ranks of the uninsured” have dropped by a third, although he did not specify exactly what year that was of the five that the ACA has been in effect.
To defend the validity of the ACA, and criticize those who are trying to repeal it, the president shared that after the law was passed, businesses experienced the longest streak of private section growth on record for the last five years which added a total of 12 million jobs in the process. Fiscally, he shared that healthcare prices are rising at the slowest rate in almost 30 years, and as a result has cut the national deficit by two-thirds since he took office.
He even shared that the budget that the republican party proposed in Congress the previous week would “literally double the number of uninsured Americans.” Health care analysts reported to the Huffington Post that “a fair interpretation” of the 2016 budget proposed by Rep. Tom Price could see the number of uninsured Americans be doubled.
Medline Industries, Inc. reported that the CMS projects that if the ACA is fully implemented, after 10 years, Medicare costs will have been reduced for a total of $8.2 billion.
As of today, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 313,395,400 American citizens have health insurance.
To view the president’s complete speech, click on the video below.