The Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare turns three years old. On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, helping millions of Americans to gain access to affordable health insurance coverage. Despite the Republican controlled Congress’ efforts to block the law, prevent it from being fully implemented in states or threatening to deny state’s funding, it is the law. Republicans have voted more than 35 times to repeal health care reform, according to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D. FL). And despite the Supreme Court upholding the law in 2012, just this week, Michele Bachmann, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan vowed to continue the fight to repeal it. Some major employers are still fighting against the law by reducing employees’ hours to skirt around the law. Democrats are still fighting across the country to keep Republicans out of office, who vow to continue fights against health care reform
The Affordable Care Act, known as health care reform, has significantly made a positive impact on Americans and particularly, African Americans and minority communities, many of whom lack health insurance. One in 5 African Americans lack health insurance, more than any other group. The law provides many African Americans the freedom to get the care they need without seeking primary care from a hospital emergency room. Many African Americans also suffer from pre-existing illnesses such as hypertension, heart disease and high cholesterol in larger numbers than white Americans. Most importantly, the law provides vital protection for those with pre-existing conditions and provides continuing coverage. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D. MO) said on a conference call that he is not sure why so many fought against it, when so many people need it, including those who fought against it. Under the law, it is now illegal to deny health care to children based on pre-existing conditions. With jobs being lost daily and several hundred foreclosures an hour, the African American community should “embrace it with a vengeance” says Rep. Cleaver.
The health care law goes beyond coverage and adds key investments like increasing jobs. 16,000 new primary health care providers, including nurses and physician assistants, will be added over the next 5 years as a result of the law. In addition, Medicare recipients will receive free preventive care, including colonoscopies, mammograms and annual physical x-rays, allowing many persons to get help before life threatening illnesses arise. Physicians who were skeptical about the law have come to understand its benefits. Dr. Deneta Sells, a Georgia based pediatrician has benefited from the tax credits granted to small businesses by the Affordable Care Act. Many practicing physicians are small businesses.
Americans, who are often silent over the loud clanging of the opponents of Affordable Care, are beginning to speak out. One such person is Renee Ford of Memphis, TN. Renee, a mother of 5 and wife learned about the catastrophic nightmare of being uninsured when her husband needed a kidney transplant. The family was on COBRA at the time at a cost of $1200 a month. Her husband now has to take rejection medicine for his kidney transplant at a cost of $2400 for the rest of his life. No insurance will cover him due to his pre-existing condition. The only coverage her family could find would cost $2400 with a $25,000 deductible. Now there is hope for the many persons living in this country like Ms. Ford’s family.
Happy Birthday Obamacare and wishing you many more birthdays!
Debbie Hines is a lawyer and legal and political commentator. She is frequently seen in the media speaking on issues affecting women and African Americans. She also writes for the Huffington Post. She holds a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University law School and a BA from the University of PA.