Our government was established on a system of checks and balances, so that each branch can prevent overreach by the others.
The U.S. Supreme Court took a closer look at the Affordable Care Act and they found it to be constitutional. This ruling is important because it will help us move forward in changing our health care system to better ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care coverage and our businesses can better compete in the global marketplace.
Our health care system was failing too many people for too long. The status quo wasn’t sustainable. We had to do something to curb rising health care costs which were burdening family, business and government budgets alike. Our economic future depends upon our ability to get the fastest growing area of spending in check.
The Affordable Care Act takes steps to address rising health care costs and gives us the opportunity to reform a health care system in desperate need of change. The bill was fully paid for and, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, through spending reductions and some revenue increases, reduces the budget deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next 20 years.
As we implement the law, we can already see progress. In just the last two years:
- More than 39,000 children in western Wisconsin alone, who were previously denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition, now have health insurance
- 43,000 young adults in Wisconsin are covered under their parent’s plans
- More than 60,000 Wisconsin seniors have lower prescription drug costs
- 647,617 Wisconsin seniors on Medicare receive free preventive care
- Small businesses and family farms qualify for tax credits for the health care they provide their workers
In the near future, more improvements will be seen, including:
- Anyone with a pre-existing condition will no longer be discriminated against
- If you get sick or injured, you cannot be dropped from coverage
- If you suffer a catastrophic illness or injury, there are no lifetime limits on coverage
- If you are a woman, you cannot be charged a higher premium
- If you lose your job or want to start a business, you will have access to health care
- If you are a small business, family farmer or individual, you will be able to buy coverage in a health insurance exchange from competing health plans coupled with tax credits to make it affordable
We have great models of care in Wisconsin that show us how to best reduce health care costs. They provide high quality care through coordinating that care, implementing health information technology, and using comparative effectiveness measures to ensure the best care for the best price.
We have to build on these models and change the way we pay for health care by rewarding quality care and not the amount of care given. There are tools in the Affordable Care Act we can use to help make this transition.
The law isn’t perfect and we will need to make adjustments, but it takes significant steps to get costs under control and ensures important patient protections. I believe the Affordable Care Act was a necessary step to help get our economy back on track by making us more competitive globally and reducing future budget deficits.
To do that, we have to end the political war, find common ground, and make future changes as we learn more about what works and what doesn’t work in our health care system.