By Frances G. Padilla
With the reelection of President Obama, we can finally say that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which passed in March 2010 is truly the law of the land and is here to stay.
It survived the 2010 Congressional elections which elected a Republican majority determined to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. It survived a Supreme Court case that came perilously close to finding the entire law unconstitutional, but in the end upheld most of the law. It survived a long-drawn out 2012 presidential election campaign which broadcast constant misinformation about what it was going to cost and how it was going to mean a “government takeover” of health care. And now it has survived the presidential election itself.
The next cloud of uncertainty hanging over the Affordable Care Act is surely the federal budget deficit negotiations. It means the law is still vulnerable to budget cuts that could potentially deprive it of needed resources or slow down implementation. Still, the core of the ACA WILL move forward. As Health Care for America Now states:
“This is extraordinarily good news for every family worried about getting the health care they need without being buried by medical bills. It’s huge news for the 129 million Americans with preexisting conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure who won’t face insurance company discrimination any more. It means 30 million uninsured Americans will finally have health care.”
Americans now know that they can change jobs or start up a new business without the worry of finding affordable coverage, regardless of whether they have a preexisting condition. Insurance rules have been changed to better protect consumers. Small businesses will face a more level playing field for buying coverage for their employees.
We can be proud that Connecticut is one of only 14 states that continued to move forward with the ACA all along, despite the uncertainty of the environment surrounding health reform. But the Universal Health Care Foundation and other health reform advocates will also remain vigilant to make sure the law is not starved of the resources necessary for its timely and effective implementation. And we will be watching closely to be sure it is implemented in a way that prioritizes the needs of consumers and patients.
Frances G. Padilla is the president of the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut.