Healthcare is a right, not a privilege

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I fully agree with the president that this decision is truly a victory for all. The changes we made when we enacted the Affordable Care Act were necessary for all Americans, and particularly important in addressing some of our nation’s large health disparities that still remain. In Brooklyn, NY, where I represent, so many have already benefited from this law. Over 349,000 residents have had their health insurance coverage improved. Medicare has improved for over 75,000 beneficiaries, and the prescription drug coverage gap has been closed, which has made necessary prescriptions more affordable and attainable. Over 37,500 uninsured residents have had coverage extended to them, and over 61,000 young adults are now able to obtain coverage under their parents’ insurance plan. In addition, coverage for preventive health services has helped to reduce rates of chronic disease. Nationally, the numbers of those who have benefited from this law are even greater. These are all benefits that we cannot as a society afford to lose.

In these debates, we must never lose sight of who this fight is about. A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting a young constituent, Jacob, in my district office. Little Jacob suffers from a rare disease, and his mother is his primary caretaker. Because Jacob was diagnosed at such a young age, his family has struggled to find the resources necessary to care for him. Thankfully, because of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, Jacob’s family can rest assured in the knowledge that their son can no longer be denied health coverage, purely because of his illness. They can sleep easily, knowing that after he turns 27 and is no longer eligible for coverage under his parents’ plans, affordable health plans will be available for him. Jacob’s healthcare is a fundamental right, not a privilege.

As a senior member on the health subcommittee on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, I must admit that I wish the law went further. I never thought the law was perfect, but I do believe that it was a crucial step in the right direction. I am pleased that the Supreme Court agrees and that those who have seen the numerous benefits afforded by the law will not lose them, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to continue to strengthen our nation’s healthcare system.

Towns is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.