Today, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Malden), Dean of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, praised the new healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, on its first anniversary for providing more freedom and control over healthcare choices for millions of Americans. Gone are the days when insurers could refuse coverage to sick children or kick someone off their health plan because they got too sick. Just one year after passage, the law is helping millions of seniors are get significant discounts on their prescription drugs and receive free preventive care through Medicare. Small businesses across the country are taking advantage of tax credits that offset the cost of providing health insurance for their workers. And young adults are now able to remain or go back on their parents' health insurance plan until they turn 26.
"Massachusetts residents have a lot to celebrate on the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act," said Rep. Markey. "We've ended abusive practices by the insurance industry, provided cheaper prescription drugs for our seniors, and made tax credits available for families and small businesses to better afford coverage. I'll continue to fight against Republican efforts to undo the progress made over the past year and will work to implement the law so that it benefits residents throughout the Bay State."
"Seniors who fall into the Medicare coverage gap face serious financial hardship and too often face choices between filling their prescriptions and paying their heating or grocery bill," said Irene O'Donnell, Regional SHINE Director at Mystic Valley Elder Services. "Thanks to the healthcare law, seniors and their families can breathe a little easier knowing that they will no longer face staggering costs for the medications they need to stay healthy."
"The Affordable Care Act is making a real difference for small business owners in Massachusetts," said John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of Small Business Majority. "Our research shows that small business owners in the state paid $5.9 billion in healthcare premiums in 2009, and without reform, that number would have risen to $13 billion by 2018. And more than 81,000 small firms in Massachusetts are eligible for a tax credit on their 2010 taxes thanks to the new law. That's real money in entrepreneurs' pockets, which they can use to help grow their companies or hire new employees."
The healthcare law also includes a Rep. Markey-authored provision - Independence at Home - which creates a Medicare demonstration program that helps chronically ill seniors receive coordinated care from a team of health care professionals right in their own homes. Implementation of Independence at Home will begin this year.
"This critical provision will improve care for the most vulnerable among us, and save taxpayers money in the process by catching emerging health problems early, before they require a costly hospitalization," said Markey. "This is not just a fiscal imperative, but a moral one as well."
On year after passage, the healthcare law is having far-reaching positive impacts in Massachusetts' 7th Congressional District.
445,000 residents are protected from annual and lifetime limits on their health benefits. The healthcare law prohibits insurance companies from putting annual or lifetime limits on the health benefits people can receive. While most health insurance plans in Massachusetts do not have these limits, the law protects all 445,000 individuals in the district with employer or private coverage.
16,000 small businesses qualify for tax credits to help pay for healthcare benefits. The healthcare law provides tax credits to small businesses worth up to 50% of the cost of providing health insurance. There are up to 16,000 small businesses in the 7th Congressional District that are eligible for this assistance.
8,600 seniors who will hit the Medicare coverage gap -- the "donut hole" -- can get cheaper prescription drugs. The healthcare law provides seniors on Medicare a 50% discount for certain prescription drugs if they fall into the Medicare "donut hole" and lose coverage for their drug expendes. Over time, this discount will increase until the "donut hole" is finally eliminated. There are 8,600 seniors in the 7th District who fall into the "donut hole" each year and who could expect to benefit from these provisions. Repealing the law would increase the average cost of prescription drugs for these Medicare beneficiaries by over $500 in 2011 and by over $3,000 in 2020.
103,000 seniors on Medicare are getting free preventive care. The healthcare law improves and strengthens Medicare by providing free preventive and wellness care, a major benefit for the 103,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the 7th Congressional District. The reform law also requires that private insurance companies provide free preventive care like cancer and diabetes screenings, a benefit to 93,000 district residents.
900 young adults can remain on their parents' insurance policies until age 26, regardless of dependent status. In today's economy, many high school and college graduates have difficulty landing a job, much less one that provides health insurance. The healthcare law allows young adults to remain on their parents' plan, and 900 individuals have or are expected to take advantage of this benefit rather than join the ranks of the uninsured.