The symbol of one political party is an elephant, known for its size, strength and memory. For modern elephants gone astray or rogue, forgetting is common, so factual reminders are needed to bring their collective memory current.
The following information released today by the White House is the best reminder so far of what the Patient Protection and Affordability Act [ACA] has meant just for Ohio. If you’re an elected Ohio leader who wouldn’t have voted for The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act had you served in Congress five years ago, or who have attacked it since as a flawed, job-killing, deficit-raising catastrophe while advocated all the while for its repeal and replacement in spite of nothing to replace it with, stop reading now. Your health may be in danger.
Before you read a little or a lot, please talk to your doctor and ask whether reading not-made-up facts, understanding them and how they affect people, and then switching to the reality channel they all point you to is right for your political and mental health.
The entirety of just what the ACA has done in Ohio over the last five years is provided below as a public service by Plunderbund. It’s highly unlikely any Ohio mainstream media news source or outlet will provide the entire release by the White House today. Enjoy the good news. It means more work lies ahead because today’s elephants will continue to use their size and strength to obstruct it. But while there aren’t as many elephants as there was a while ago, just remember this: the ACA is merely the first step toward a real public option or, better yet, Medicare for all.
Key Facts and Reports: The Fifth Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act
Until President Obama fought for and signed the Affordable Care Act, for decades, millions of Americans lacked the security of health care coverage they deserve. Five years after the ACA became law, millions of working and middle class families have the economic security of knowing that they won’t go broke if they get sick.
Thanks to the ACA, millions of Americans who already had health insurance now have better coverage because women can no longer be charged higher premiums than men for the same plan, people with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage, and young adults won’t age off their parent’s policy when they turn age 19 or graduate from college.
Despite this progress, Republicans in Congress continue to fight for special interests, not middle class families. They have voted more than 50 times to repeal the ACA, which would eliminate tough rules, including those that guarantee health coverage even if you have a pre-existing condition. It’s time to move forward and our economy, and country, would be stronger if Republicans stopped fighting old political battles.
The Affordable Care Act is Working:
Making health care more affordable and accessible through the Health Insurance Marketplaces: Through the Marketplace, Ohioans had the option of signing up for quality health coverage at a price they could afford. Whether they visited the simpler, faster and more intuitive website at HealthCare.gov or contacted the call center, they found more choices and competitive prices.
In Ohio, 234,341 consumers selected or were automatically re-enrolled in quality, affordable health insurance coverage through the Marketplace as of Feb. 22. Nationwide, nearly 11.7 million consumers selected a plan or were automatically enrolled in Marketplace coverage.
Marketplace Signups and Tax Credits in Ohio:
- 84 percent of Ohio consumers who were signed up qualified for an average tax credit of $244 per month through the Marketplace.
- 41 percent of Ohio Marketplace enrollees obtained coverage for $100 or less after any applicable tax credits in 2015, and 82 percent had the option of doing so.
- In Ohio, consumers could choose from 16 issuers in the Marketplace in 2015 – up from 12 in 2014.
- Ohio consumers could choose from an average of 54 health plans in their county for 2015 coverage – up from 30 in 2014.
- 79,436 consumers in Ohio under the age of 35 are signed up for Marketplace coverage (34 percent of plan selections in the state). And 56,073 consumers 18 to 34 years of age (24 percent of all plan selections) are signed up for Marketplace coverage.
Ohio has received $1,000,000 in grants for research, planning, information technology development, and implementation of its Marketplace.
Open enrollment for 2015 coverage ended on Feb. 15, 2014. Open enrollment for 2016 coverage runs from November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016. Consumers should visit HealthCare.gov to see if they qualify for a Special Enrollment Period because of a life change like marriage, having a baby or losing other coverage. Enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program is open year round.
Reducing the number of uninsured Americans: Nationwide, since the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion began, about 16.4 million uninsured people have gained health insurance coverage – the largest reduction in the uninsured in four decades. And Gallup recently announced that the uninsured rate in Ohio in 2014 was 10.5 percent, down from 13.9 percent in 2013.
New coverage options for young adults: Under the health care law, if your plan covers children, you can now add or keep your children on your health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old. Thanks to this provision, over 2.3 young people who would otherwise have been uninsured have gained coverage nationwide.
Expanding Medicaid: Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, states have new opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage to individuals with family incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level (generally $32,253 for a family of four in 2015). This expansion includes non-elderly adults without dependent children, who have not previously been eligible for Medicaid in most states.
Twenty-eight states plus DC have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, including Ohio. And as of January 2015, 587,107 Ohioans have gained Medicaid or CHIP coverage since the beginning of the Health Insurance Marketplace first open enrollment period. Across the nation, approximately 11.2 million more Americans are now enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP.
Providing better value for your premium dollar through the 80/20 Rule: Health insurance companies now have to spend at least 80 cents of your premium dollar on health care or improvements to care, rather than administrative costs like salaries or marketing, or they have to provide you a refund. This means that 35,361 Ohioans with private insurance coverage benefited from $1,216,544 in refunds from insurance companies, for an average refund of $69 per family because of the Affordable Care Act.
Scrutinizing unreasonable premium increases: In every State and for the first time under Federal law, insurance companies are required to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10 percent or more. Ohio has received $5,091,507 under the new law to help fight unreasonable premium increases. Since implementing the law, the fraction of requests for insurance premium increases of 10 percent or more has dropped dramatically, from 75 percent to 14 percent nationally. To date, the rate review program has helped save Americans an estimated $1 billion.
Removing lifetime limits on health benefits: The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. Already, 4,154,000 people in Ohio, including 1,542,000 women and 1,100,000 children, are free from worrying about lifetime limits on coverage. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely starting in 2014.
Ending discrimination for pre-existing conditions: As many as 5,053,131 non-elderly Ohioans have some type of pre-existing health condition, including 643,049 children. Today, health insurers can no longer deny coverage to anyone because of a pre-existing condition, like asthma or diabetes, under the health care law. And they can no longer charge women more because of their gender.
Expanding mental health and substance use disorder benefits: The Affordable Care Act increases also access to comprehensive coverage by requiring most health plans to cover ten essential health benefit categories, to include hospitalization, prescription drugs, maternity and newborn care, and mental health and substance use disorder services. The health care law expands mental health and substance use disorder benefits and federal parity protections for 62 million Americans nationwide, including 2,078,730 Ohioans.
Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay: The health care law requires many insurance plans to provide coverage without cost sharing to enrollees for a variety of preventive health services, such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for all children and adults.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, 76 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 2,814,000 in Ohio. And women can now get coverage without cost-sharing of even more preventive services they need. Of the 76 million Americans with expanded access to free preventive services, 29.7 million are women, including 1,079,000 in Ohio receiving expanded preventive services without cost-sharing.
Investing in the primary care workforce: As a result of historic investments through the health care law and the Recovery Act, the numbers of clinicians in the National Health Service Corps are near all-time highs with 9,200 Corps clinicians providing care to approximately 9.7 million people who live in rural, urban, and frontier communities. The National Health Service Corps repays educational loans and provides scholarships to primary care physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, behavioral health providers, and other primary care providers who practice in areas of the country that have too few health care professionals to serve the people who live there. As of September 30, 2014, there were 121 Corps clinicians providing primary care services in Ohio, compared to 69 in 2008.
Increasing support for community health centers: The Affordable Care Act increases the funding available to community health centers nationwide. Health Center grantees in Ohio have received $217,319,926 under the health care law to offer a broader array of primary care services, extend their hours of operations, hire more providers, and renovate or build new clinical spaces.
Of the $217,319,926 awarded to Ohio, $6,308,121 was awarded to Ohio health centers to help enroll uninsured Americans in the Health Insurance Marketplace. Overall, since 2013, Ohio health centers used these funds to help more than 170,845 Ohio residents with enrollment into affordable health insurance coverage, with 23,230 of those being assisted between October and December 2014. These investments ensure that health centers continue to be a trusted resource for assistance with enrollment in the Marketplace, Medicaid and CHIP in Ohio.
In Ohio, 40 health centers operate 219 sites, providing preventive and primary health care services to 508,333 Ohioans, including 37,309 Latinos and 139,417 African Americans.
Preventing illness and promoting health: Through Fiscal Year 2013, Ohio has received $33,794,581 in grants from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the health care law. This fund was created to support effective policies in Ohio and nationwide, such as initiatives focused on tobacco cessation, obesity prevention, health coverage enrollment assistance, and increasing the primary care and public health workforce, so that all Americans can lead longer, more productive lives.
A Stronger Medicare Program
Making prescription drugs affordable for seniors: In Ohio, people with Medicare have saved nearly $750,550,535 on prescription drugs because of the Affordable Care Act. In 2014 alone, 239,721 individuals in Ohio saved over $235,018,764, or an average of $980 per beneficiary. In 2015, people with Medicare in the “donut hole” received a 55 percent discount on covered brand name drugs and a 35 percent discount on generic drugs. And thanks to the health care law, coverage for both brand name and generic drugs will continue to increase over time until the coverage gap is closed. Nationally, over 9.4 million people with Medicare have saved over $15 billion on prescription drugs since the law’s enactment, for an average savings of $1,598 per beneficiary.
Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay : With no deductibles or co-pays, cost is no longer a barrier for seniors and people with disabilities who want to stay healthy by detecting and treating health problems early. In 2014 alone, an estimated 39 million people benefited from Medicare’s coverage of preventive services with no cost-sharing. In Ohio, 1,486,864 individuals with Medicare used one or more free preventive service in 2014.
Cracking down on fraud and abuse: The health care law helps stop fraud with tougher screening procedures, stronger penalties, and new technology. More than $27.8 billion has been returned to the Medicare Trust Funds since 1997 because of these fraud enforcement efforts. For every dollar spent on health care-related fraud and abuse activities in the last three years the administration has recovered $7.70.