Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) announced millions of Americans are benefiting from the improved coverage and lower costs provided by the Affordable Care Act. Today marks the one year anniversary of the Patient's Bill of Rights. All Americans with private health plans are now receiving the protections of the Bill of Rights.
"The Affordable Care Act has put Americans and their families, not the health insurance companies, back in charge of their health care. The Act is already improving lives, including young adults, children with pre-existing conditions, owners of small businesses, and seniors, along with all of the 165 million Americans who have private insurance," said Rep. Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health. "As more and more Americans benefit from the Affordable Care Act, the House Republican Majority has spent the greater part of 2011 voting to repeal these benefits, rather than pursuing ways to create jobs."
Rep. Engel added, "Democrats governed to improve the lives of the American people, Republicans are governing to take away rights, hold disaster relief funds hostage, and to repeatedly threaten to shut the government down and undermine the economic recovery."
Under the Patient's Bill of Rights, if you are one of the 165 million Americans with private insurance, you are now receiving the following protections:
· You can no longer be arbitrarily dropped from coverage by your insurance company simply because you get sick.
· Your insurance company can no longer place a lifetime limit on your coverage.
· Your insurance company can no longer place low annual limits on your coverage.
· If you are under age 65 and in a new plan, you are now receiving free key preventive services.
In addition, because of the Patient's Bill of Rights:
· If you are a young adult, you can now stay on your parents' health plan until your 26th birthday, if you do not have coverage of your own. Because of this provision, one million additional young people have gained coverage over the last year.
· If you have a child under age 19, they can no longer be denied coverage by an insurance company for having a "pre-existing condition." Up to 17 million children with pre-existing conditions are now protected from discrimination.
In addition to the Patient's Bill of Rights, the Affordable Care Act also provided new Medicare benefits for America's seniors, which became effective on January 1, 2011. These new Medicare benefits include the following:
· Seniors are now receiving a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs when they are in the Medicare Part D "donut hole' coverage gap. Nearly 1.3 million seniors have already received the discount.
· Seniors are now receiving free key preventive health services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, under Medicare. Nearly 19 million seniors have already received one or more free preventive services.
· Seniors are now receiving a free Annual Wellness Visit under Medicare. 1.3 million seniors have already taken advantage of the new free Annual Wellness Visit.
Finally, for small businesses, the Affordable Care Act is providing tax credits of up to 35 percent of employer premium contributions for those small businesses that choose to offer coverage. The tax credits became effective beginning for tax year 2010. There are up to 4 million small businesses that are eligible for this tax credit.
"This law makes health care affordable for the middle class and halted the steady rise in health care costs. The rising cost of health care has been a significant contributor to our budgetary woes over the years. For all of their negative descriptions of health care reform, Republicans have repeatedly failed to provide any alternative ideas that would come remotely close to accomplishing what the Affordable Care Act does. They had six years of control of the House, Senate and White House and provided no leadership on this issue. They have provided no meaningful alternatives to help stem rising health care costs or to assist those who are uninsured," said Rep. Engel.
The 12-term Congressman added, "Today is a day for all Americans to remember this legislation is a major step towards ensuring health care is available for all. I was proud to vote for this historic law, and history will show it will improve access to health care."