In March 2010, Congress passed and the President signed comprehensive health care reform into law with the Affordable Care Act. This law puts in place comprehensive health insurance reforms that will hold insurance companies more accountable, lower health care costs, guarantee more health care choices, and enhance the quality of health care for all Americans.
Whether you get health benefits through work, buy insurance yourself, have a small business and desire to provide health coverage to your employees, are on Medicare, or don't currently have insurance, the Affordable Care Act gives you better control of your own decisions about your health coverage. It makes insurance more affordable right away by providing small businesses with a tax credit to provide coverage, and in 2014, by providing tax credits to those who need help in buying insurance -- representing the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history.
The Affordable Care Act is projected to reduce premium costs for millions of families and small business owners who are priced out of coverage today. This could help as many as 32 million Americans who have no health care today receive coverage.
Once the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, Americans will have access to affordable health coverage.
To help lower costs, the Affordable Care Act:
sets up a new competitive private health insurance market -- through state Exchanges -- giving millions of Americans and small businesses access to affordable coverage, and the same choices of insurance that members of Congress will have.
holds insurance companies accountable by keeping premiums down and preventing many types of insurance industry abuses and denials of care, and ending discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions.
puts our budget and economy on a more stable path, since it is expected to reduce the deficit by more than $100 billion over the next ten years -- and by more than $1 trillion over the second decade -- by cutting government overspending and reining in waste, fraud and abuse.
Starting this year and continuing through 2014, the Affordable Care Act will be implemented, increasing access to affordable health care for individuals, families, seniors, and businesses.
Many important benefits have already begun, including bans on the worst insurance company abuses; cost savings for seniors, families and small and large businesses; and coverage options for many Americans who have been locked out of the insurance market because of a preexisting condition.
Disparities in Health Care for African Americans and Latinos
In the United States today, African Americans suffer from chronic diseases at a much higher rate than their White counterparts. Infant mortality rates are twice as high for African Americans as for White Americans. The prevalence of diabetes, survival rate for cancer, HIV infection -- all are in stark contrast to White Americans in this country. There are several explanations for this unfortunate reality. Latinos are the most likely to lack health insurance, with African Americans close behind.
In addition, African Americans and Latinos are more likely to experience food insecurity, less likely to find affordable housing, more likely to suffer the effects of environmental pollution, and less likely to be educated and have access to reliable health information. The Affordable Care Act includes important provisions to address some of these disparities; however, it will take new and creative approaches to ensure the blessings of good health are available to all, regardless of racial or ethnic background.
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Roe v. Wade that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman's decision whether to terminate her pregnancy. As protected by the Constitution, the full spectrum of reproductive health services should be available to all women and men.