ACA’s Anniversary: Time for Celebration, and Education…

HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On One-Year Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act…

NEW REPORT REVEALS HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF CALIFORNIANS
DIRECTLY BENEFITING FROM FEDERAL HEALTH LAW, JUST ONE YEAR IN

Seniors, Small Businesses, Young Adults, Those with Pre-Existing Conditions
Get Direct Help; Millions Get Security of New Consumer Protections

California Leads Nation in Implementation of Federal Law, But Much More to Do
To Maximize Benefits; Over a Dozen Bills Pending in California Legislature for 2011.

Sacramento Event (with cake!) at 11am Wed., March 23rd, Oak Park Community Center;
Please come, Join Rep. Matsui & Commissioner Jones; RSVP to rauguste@health-access.org

Read Our Health Access Blog for More Updates; Also Follow Us on Facebook!
Read Real-Time Updates on Legislation on Twitter @HealthAccess!
If You Appreciate These Updates, Join/Renew Your Health Access Membership!

SACRAMENTO—Californians have reason to celebrate this week, as both grassroots events and report releases signal the one-year anniversary of the enactment of historic federal health reform. One year ago tomorrow, March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), a historic law that provides the biggest reforms of our era in three areas:
1) Providing new consumer protections to prevent the worst insurance industry abuses.
2) Ensuring affordability and security for those with coverage, and new and affordable options for those without coverage, including the biggest expansion of coverage since creating Medicare.
3) Helping control health costs, improve quality, and encourage prevention and wellness.

Earlier today, one of the authors of the law, California Representative Henry Waxman was presented with a birthday cake and given a standing ovation at a celebration at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, by leaders including Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Rep. Karen Bass, HHS Regional Director Herb K. Shultz, and Californians who have gotten specific benefit from the law. The event was moderated by Jon “Bowser” Bauman of Sha Na Na, who was active, with many others in attendance, in advocating for the law.

Tomorrow, a Sacramento press event will feature Congresswoman Doris Matsui, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and key organization and community leaders. Consumer and health advocates are invited to attend and enjoy the ACA’s birthday cake. The event is tomorrow, Wednesday, March 23rd, at 11:00am at the Oak Park Community Center. If you wish to attend, please RSVP to rauguste@health-access.org.

These events are not just for celebration but for education, to better inform Californians about their new benefits, options, and consumer protections–and also to know what would be lose with efforts to repeal or defund the law.

NEW STATUS REPORT: Tomorrow’s anniversary of the signing of the federal law is also occasion for a new one-year status report on the California impact and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The report is here:
http://www.health-access.org/files/advocating/ACA%20One%20Year%20Report%203-23-11.pdf

The report, authored by Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, reveals that hundreds of thousands of Californians are getting direct benefits—either coverage or financial assistance—as a result of the new law. The law is making a difference, from the tens of thousands of young adults on their parents’ insurance and those with pre-existing conditions taking advantage of new options for coverage, to the hundreds of thousands of seniors and small businesses getting direct financial help to afford coverage. In addition, millions of Californians now have more security and confidence in their coverage, stemming from the new consumer protections and increased insurance oversight in place.

Those Californians who directly benefited include, but are not limited to:
* Over 100 employers and trusts got specific financial assistance with early retiree coverage.
* Nearly 1800 Californians who had been denied private coverage for their health status, who now have coverage through the new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program (PCIP);
* Thousands of children with pre-existing conditions who now have new access to coverage.
* Tens of thousands of young adults (out of nearly 200,000) who now get coverage through their parents’ health insurance.
* Hundreds of thousands of Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross of California policyholders who has their rate hikes withdrawn or reduced, respectively, due to additional scrutiny that came in part due to the new law.
* Hundreds of thousands of Californians who get coverage through a small business that qualifies for a tax credit to better afford to provide coverage.
* Hundreds of thousands of seniors who got a $250 check to assist with prescription drug costs.

The one-year status report identifies California as a leader in taking advantage of opportunities of the law, from enacting over a half-dozen laws to implement and improve the ACA, to applying for federal grant funds, to negotiating a new Medicaid “waiver” with the federal government.

Millions more Californians will benefit, and qualify for direct financial assistance in the next year and beyond, but only if the implementation continues at both the federal and state level. In addition to preventing efforts to repeal or defund the law, California can takes additional steps to maximize the benefits, according to the report.

In releasing the report, health and consumer advocates outlined legislative, regulatory and other crucial implementation activities that are pending, including over a dozen bills pending for 2011 in the California legislature to implement and improve the federal health law. One group of bills would continue to improve consumer protections and insurance company oversight; another package would seek to make it easier for Californians to get and keep coverage through reforms to our eligibility and enrollment systems.

Finally, in addition to continuing progress at the state level, consumer groups urged against any efforts to repeal or defund the law at the federal level–efforts which would disadvantage these hundreds of thousands of Californians immediately, and millions in the near future.

As always, more information on health reform, including the new report, is available on our website at http://www.health-access.org/. We also post breaking news on our Twitter feed, at www.twitter.com/healthaccess.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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