ObamaCare works

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is working. And the numbers and stories back it up.

In my home state of California, more than 3 million people now have health security because of the ACA. In my district, the number of uninsured residents has drastically declined, by 50 percent.

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Around the country, more than 16 million uninsured Americans have gained insurance and the uninsured rate across the country is the lowest it has ever been. Kids and young adults can now stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26, expanding access to coverage for millions of Americans. Seniors and Americans with disabilities now receive discounts on their prescriptions, which has saved 9 million Medicare beneficiaries an average of $1,600 each.

The ACA is not only providing health security to Americans, it is providing tremendous economic security as well. Healthcare spending is the slowest it has been in 50 years. At the same time, the number of devastating medical bankruptcies has declined dramatically.

But it’s not just about the numbers — the success of the ACA can be found in the many stories highlighting how the healthcare law has improved the health and well-being of our friends and neighbors.

Victoria, a woman in my district, told me that she would have died without the ACA. Prior to the law’s passage, she had no health insurance. She was self-employed and couldn’t afford to purchase coverage. But because of the ACA she was able to sign up for insurance that she could afford, and shortly after seeing her new doctor she was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Seven weeks after being diagnosed, her kidney was removed, and she is now in remission. Without insurance, she says she would never have gone to the doctor. She would not have received an ultrasound, and she probably would not have known she had kidney cancer. She was able to tell me her story because she is still here today, alive and living cancer-free.

Another constituent and her husband told me that they were both recently laid off. They were just shy of being eligible for Medicare. Their insurance was costing more than $1,000 a month and they could not afford to continue. But now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, they have the same plan at a much cheaper, affordable rate.

Yet another constituent, at 62, was being crippled by a severe arthritic hip joint. Because of her coverage through the Affordable Care Act, this woman was able to get a hip replacement last November and is back to working and
teaching music in our community.

For these individuals, and so many others across the country, the law is working. But we know that, just like with any other large piece of legislation, there are fixes to be made and follow-up efforts that are required to bring the promise of high-quality, affordable, accessible healthcare to all Americans.

We must continue to work to address affordability, ensuring that all Americans have access to care at a rate that fits their budgets. No one should ever have to skimp on their health because of costs. This is particularly important to address in high-cost regions of the country, like my own.

We must also continue to work to improve provider network adequacy and ensure that Americans have access to the healthcare providers they need and trust.

And we need to remove burdens and improve access to tax credits for our small businesses that want to provide insurance to their workers but find it too difficult or expensive.

There are numerous bills in Congress that I have supported to address these and other issues where we can, and should, do more to fulfill the promise of the Affordable Care Act for all Americans. Before the ACA, our healthcare system was broken. Now we must build upon the foundation of the law to improve it and continue the shift from a system of sick care to one that is there to keep us well.

Despite the headlines, the protests and the partisan fighting, the Affordable Care Act is quietly saving people’s lives, helping our neighbors take responsibility for their own health insurance and reducing the amount that each of us is paying to cover the uncompensated care of others.

The law has withstood the scrutiny of the U.S. Supreme Court — twice — despite the best efforts of political opponents to try and kill it. And no serious plans to “repeal and replace” have come to light, despite 60 congressional votes to dismantle the law. In light of these failed attempts, I hope my colleagues and I can now come together to engage in a productive conversation in how we can strengthen the law and improve care for all Americans.

But the bottom line is that it has changed, and even saved, many people’s lives. It has placed individuals — not insurance companies — in the driver’s seat and opened quality, affordable healthcare up to millions of everyday Americans.

It is working, and it’s here to stay. And that is a good thing.

Capps represents California’s 24th Congressional District and has served in the House since 1998. She sits on the Energy and Commerce and the Natural Resources committees.