Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law two years ago today, it has helped thousands of Coloradans get coverage and receive the care they need. I fought hard to pass these improvements to our health care system because they will take insurance companies out of the driver's seat, instead empowering Coloradans and their families as they seek to maintain their health and well-being. While full implementation of the law will not be until 2014, nearly every Coloradan is already seeing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act:
* As of today, 44,000 young Coloradans - college students, recent high school graduates and young adults just starting out their careers - have access to health coverage under their parents' insurance until the age of 26.
* As of today, nearly 40,000 Colorado seniors on Medicare have seen their costs in the prescription drug coverage gap cut in half, saving them on average $579 this year. The coverage gap, or "donut hole," will continue to shrink every year under the Affordable Care Act until it's closed completely by 2020.
* As of today, over 1 million Coloradans can get critical screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies, blood pressure tests, vaccinations, and other preventive care without deductibles or co-payments. Making preventive care more affordable is a critical part of health care reform - first, because it keeps our loved ones healthy before they ever get sick, and second, because it saves every Coloradan money in the long run by catching and preventing expensive medical conditions before they start.
* As of today, the Affordable Care Act ensures that no Coloradan will ever have to forego potentially lifesaving treatment because they've reached their "lifetime limit" in coverage, or because their insurance company has restricted the amount of cancer care or other treatments Coloradans may need.
And that's just what the Affordable Care Act has done up until its second birthday - we have a lot more to look forward to. In 2014, when the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange gets up and running, which is being structured specifically for Colorado by stakeholders from our state, Coloradans will have access to a more competitive insurance market with affordable options to fit their families' specific health care needs.
We've come a long way in the past two years. It's a tall task to build a better health care system, and we still have a long way to go. But I am proud that, among other benefits, Colorado seniors have gotten much-needed relief, young Coloradans just entering the workforce in a difficult job climate can stay protected on their parents' health plan, and average Coloradans are getting preventive care that keeps them healthy at no additional out-of-pocket cost.
Colorado is stronger with healthier communities, which is why I remain committed to forming a health care system in our country that works for everyone.