Today's landmark Supreme Court decision, upholding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, will provide health care benefits for millions of American citizens previously denied those benefits. It will protect individuals with previously existing conditions, provide coverage for millions of youth to age 26 on their parents insurance, end lifetime limits on coverage, all while permitting American's who are satisfied with their current coverage to continue with their current plan. It means that the number one cause of personal bankruptcy, medical debt, will be largely abolished. The Affordable Care Act is a good first step in reforming our health care system that will act as a framework and platform to extend coverage and services to millions and hopefully begin to reduce some of the great disparities which exist in our health care system.
The 7th Congressional District of Illinois includes some of the most medically underserved communities in America. Census data shows that 24 percent of families and 44 percent of children under 18 live below the poverty line. As a result, many of these individuals are disproportionately impacted by disease and poor health. Minorities make up 30% of the population, but are 50% of the uninsured. Under the Affordable Care Act, 32 million uninsured or underinsured Americans are expected to gain health insurance coverage. The expansion of Medicaid is critical in extending health care to the uninsured and I will be watching closely to ensure that this provision of the law is implemented in a manner consistent with the best interests of the American people.
In the 7th Congressional District of Illinois, the Affordable Care Act will provide insurance coverage for 48,000 uninsured residents. Our District is home to between 107,000 to 282,000 residents with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, including 7,000 to 30,000 children are desperately in need of the quality health care made possible by the bill. Our public health care system is overloaded and stretched past the breaking point and the extension of Medicaid is critical to sustaining that system.
The Affordable Care Act is critical to Chicago and Illinois and the nation. It is the most impactful piece of legislation that we have seen since Medicare and Medicaid and it is critical that we now turn our full attention and effort to implementing the law and bringing the promise of quality, affordable health care to reality for all our people.