By Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas)
Two years ago, a new healthcare bill was signed into law that dramatically increased Americans’ access to quality, affordable healthcare. The Hispanic community was disproportionately affected by the old unfair healthcare system, but this new law positively impacts our health and economic security. The rising cost of healthcare and discriminatory policies used by insurance companies have plagued our country for far too long, but it wasn’t until President Obama and congressional Democrats took action that real change was finally accomplished. During debate of the bill, the airwaves and newspapers were saturated with gross misinformation, scare tactics, and heated rhetoric that gave many Americans a false impression of the healthcare bill.
Now, two years later, Americans have been able to witness firsthand how the Affordable Care Act is helping millions save money and live healthier lives. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can no longer discriminate against and deny coverage to millions of people with preexisting conditions, including 17 million children with preexisting conditions like diabetes or asthma. Now, 105 million Americans, including nearly 12 million Hispanics, no longer have lifetime caps on their medical care. Insurance companies cannot deny or drop coverage for you or your family just because of expensive medical treatment. Thanks to the new healthcare reform law, 3.6 million seniors whose prescription drug coverage was suspended due to the infamous ‘donut hole’ have saved an average of $600 on their prescription drugs. And preventive care on procedures like flu shots, mammograms, and colon cancer screenings are provided with no out-of-pocket costs.
Two-and-a-half million young people working hard to begin their careers can stay on their family insurance plans until they turn 26, a rule which provides coverage to 736,000 young Hispanics. And now, thanks to the President’s landmark healthcare reform, your family will no longer have to go bankrupt because a family member was born with an illness or became sick. While these new policies and statistics are a testament to the benefits of the new law, the real amazing examples are the individual stories of how the law has touched millions of Americans.
In California, a woman who initially hated the bill discovered the only way she could receive cancer treatment was through the new law’s Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan, and now she is a living example of the Affordable Care Act’s intent and success. In Colorado, a small business owner was able to continue insurance coverage to his employees only because of the healthcare law’s small business tax credit. And in North Dakota, a young girl born with a rare genetic disorder would have been close to her lifetime maximum on her father’s insurance policy, but under the new law, her lifetime limit is removed so she can receive the treatment she needs. Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies played by their own rules when it came to your health care. They could raise premiums or drop your coverage if your medical care wasn’t good for their bottom line. But now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you and your doctor are empowered to do what’s best for your medical care. American families, and especially the Hispanic community, cannot afford to go back to the way things were and thanks to the Affordable Care Act, they don’t have to.
Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) is the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.