It was one year ago this week that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law by President Barack Obama, reforming private health insurance. As a result, children cannot be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, seniors will have access to affordable prescription medication, and young people can now stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26.
Before birthday cake was cut and shared, activists, politicians and insurance consumers spoke out in favor of the ACA at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Tuesday.
U.S.RepresentativeHenry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) was also honored for his healthcare reform effort. Waxman was the first representative to get the ACA on to the House of Representatives floor for a vote.
“President Obama is the man really responsible,” Waxman said. “Prior to last year, we had millions of people finding themselves uninsured. This is long overdue, we’ve been waiting at least a generation or more; decades!”
Waxman also spoke out against the Republicans’ efforts to repeal healthcare reform.
“They want to take us back in time when the rich got richer and the poor got poorer,” Waxman said. “This is right for our economy and right from a moral point of view.”
Agreeing with Waxman was Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) who worked as a physician assistant for 10 years. Bass claims that the Tea Party’s number one goal is to repeal healthcare reform, yet pointed out they are adamant about their own coverage.
“On my first day in the legislature, one of the Republican members stood up with complete indignation that he wouldn’t have health coverage for thirty days,” Bass said.
Cancer survivor Cameron Rath, now in his twenties, was diagnosed with Myelodysplasia at age 14, praised the no lifetime caps on his policy as a “lifesaving” key component of the ACA.
“If it weren’t for this bill, I don’t know where I’d be,” Rath said. “I might have left the country to get care.”
Rath was joined by his physician, Dr. Noam Drazin, who also praised the no caps element of the bill
“I no longer have the restrictions I used to,” Dr. Drazin said.
Another cancer survivor that benefited from healthcare reform is Zena Thorpe, who battled breast cancer.
“It pulled me out of the doughnut hole,” Thorpe said of the ACA.
The doughnut hole has been a controversial element of Medicare prescription coverage since it launched in 2006. Medicare recipients pay a co-payment until their drug costs reach $2,830. Then there is a coverage gap and seniors must pay 100 percent of their drug costs until they reach $3,610 out of pocket.
Thorpe pointed out that she was spending $1,000 every three months on medication and started cutting her dosage in half when she could no longer afford to properly care for herself.
“It’s remarkably easy to fall into the doughnut hole when you’re a senior,” Thorpe said
California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton warned that not everyone is in favor of healthcare reform.
“Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress seem hell bent on destroying these hard won protections and are doing everything in their power to turn back the clock on our collective health care future,” Burton said. “Instead of focusing on creating jobs and growing our economy, they’re scheming to defund the Affordable Care Act or supporting efforts to challenge it in court.”
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) called the ACA a “tremendous foundation,” but added that more still needs to be done. He said he was relieved that both Blue Shield, and Anthem Blue Cross recently delayed their rate increases after receiving pressure from consumers and state officials.
“The ACA is a great law with real benefits for Californians,” Jones said.