In Recognition of the Second Anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

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In Recognition of the Second Anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act  (2012) 
by Laura Richardson
Source: 2012 Congressional Record, Vol. 158, Pg. E404 www.gpo.gov
Speech in Congressional Record, March 21, 2012.

In Recognition of the Second Anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act


HON. LAURA RICHARDSON

OF CALIFORNIA
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In Recognition of the Second Anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act


Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the second anniversary of the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In the two years since its enactment, the Affordable Care Act has been good for seniors, good for women, good for small businesses, and good for all Americans.

As the Affordable Care Act is implemented, it will continue to expand access to affordable, quality health care for over 30 million Americans and will work to reign in the ever-escalating costs of health care. Passage of the Affordable Care Act was a major step toward fulfilling the promise all Americans were pledged: the promise of unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which quality healthcare embodies.

For the people I represent in the 37th District of California, the Affordable Care Act will improve coverage for 299,000 residents who already have insurance. It will give tax credits and other assistance to up to 146,000 families and 15,100 small businesses to help them afford coverage. Health care reform will also improve Medicare for 63,000 beneficiaries in my district, including closing the prescription drug "donut hole" once and for all.

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act made it possible for 354,592 Medicare beneficiaries in California to receive a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole. In 2011, 319,429 Medicare beneficiaries received a 50 percent discount—an average savings of $538 per person—on brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the coverage gap. That's a total savings of over $171 million for seniors in California alone! In my district, 3,200 seniors received prescription drug discounts worth $1.5 million, an average discount of $460 per senior.

The Affordable Care Act extends coverage to 92,500 uninsured residents of the 37th District and will guarantee that 17,500 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain the health insurance they need. Since enactment, health care reform has extended insurance coverage to 5,599 Californians through the new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.

The Affordable Care Act protects 1,100 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs and currently allows 59,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents' insurance plans. The new law provides millions of dollars in new funding for 11 community health centers in my district. And finally, it will reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and other health care providers by $125 million annually.

Mr. Speaker, as we approach the two year anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, an attack on women's access to affordable, quality, and necessary healthcare services is underway. From the comments made by Rush Limbaugh about Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke, to Republican attempts to roll back coverage and restrict access to birth control, the GOP's war on women stands in stark contrast to the Administration's goal of ensuring that women have access to the healthcare services they need to remain healthy.

As a female Member of Congress, I understand that women have unique health care needs, and are often the ones who make health care decisions for their families. I voted for and strongly support the Affordable Care Act because it provides important benefits for women and their families. The Affordable Care Act helps women by eliminating the discriminatory gender rating system, making sure that insurance companies do not consider pregnancy grounds for denying coverage, and doing away with all pre-existing conditions.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all Americans joining new insurance plans have the freedom to choose from any primary care provider, OB-GYN, or pediatrician in their health plan's network, or emergency care outside of the plan's network, without a referral. Under the Affordable Care Act, women joining a new health care plan can receive recommended preventive services, like mammograms, new baby care and well-child visits, and an annual wellness visit with no out-of-pocket costs. In 2011, over 6 million people with private insurance coverage in California gained preventative service coverage with no cost sharing as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

Before enactment of the Affordable Care Act, women could be charged more for individual insurance policies simply because of their gender. A 22-year-old woman could be charged 150 percent the premium that a 22-year-old man paid. In 2014, insurers will not be able to charge women higher premiums than they charge men. The law takes strong action to control health care costs, including helping states crack down on excessive premium increases and making sure most of your premium dollars go toward your health care.

The Affordable Care Act also allows young adults under the age of 26 to stay on their parents' health insurance plan. This provision has expanded access to health insurance coverage for 2.5 million young people nationwide. In my district, 7,000 young adults have taken advantage of this provision and are now covered under their parents' plan.

This week, the House will consider a bill to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board established under the Affordable Care Act. Having previously garnered bipartisan support, the majority's decision to attach a medical liability provision to the underlying piece of legislation amounts to nothing short of a partisan ploy to score points with their base.

The language attached to the bill would place caps on medical malpractice awards for pain and suffering at $250,000 and would override most state tort laws. Unfortunately, the majority's decision to include tort reform language on a completely unrelated measure demonstrates their refusal to work with Members across the aisle in order to further strengthen the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Speaker, the Affordable Care Act provides American families with stability and peace of mind. Never again will they have to choose between their health and their livelihood. As a result of the Affordable Care Act, 23,000 children and 90,000 adults in my district now have health insurance that covers preventive services without paying any co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles.

I am proud to be a part of this historic health care policy change, and to be part of the days ahead in which we will work to further strengthen it.

____________________

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).