Today we mark the one-year anniversary of the of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. This law was intended to put patients – not insurance companies – back in control of their health care. One year later, Maryland families are benefitting from new protections and greater freedom and control over their health care choices, including:
REDUCING COSTS FOR SENIORS AND STRENGTHENING MEDICARE: More than 54,723 Maryland residents have already received a one-time, tax free $250 rebate to help pay for prescriptions in the “donut hole” coverage gap, and this past January, seniors who entered the ‘donut hole’ began receiving even greater savings – a 50% discount on brand-name drugs. These seniors are expected to save more than $500 per individual on prescription drugs this year alone – and by 2020, annual savings are expected to exceed $3000 per individual. Ultimately, reform will close the ‘donut hole’ completely. And nearly all 44 million beneficiaries who have Medicare, including 701,000 in Maryland, can now receive free preventive services – like mammograms and colonoscopies – as well as a free annual wellness visit with their doctor.
OFFERING NEW COVERAGE OPTIONS FOR MARYLAND’S YOUTH: Insurance companies are now required to allow parents to keep their children up to age 26 on their insurance plans. An estimated 25,700 young adults in Maryland can access insurance coverage as a result of the law. Additionally, most insurance companies are now banned from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition. An estimated 320,000 kids with a pre-existing condition in Maryland will be protected because of this provision.
LOWERING COSTS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES: The law provides $40 billion of tax credits to up to 4 million small businesses, including up to 76,794 in Maryland to help offset the costs of purchasing coverage for their employees and make premiums more affordable.
IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF COVERAGE: All Americans with insurance are now free from worrying about losing their insurance due to a mistake on an application, or having it capped unexpectedly if someone is in an accident or becomes sick. The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – alleviating the concerns of cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases of going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014. This will protect 3.7 million Maryland residents with private insurance coverage from these limits.
PROVIDING FLEXIBILITY AND RESOURCES TO HELP MARYLAND IMPLEMENT THE LAW: The Affordable Care Act also gives the state of Maryland the flexibility and resources they need to implement the law in the way that works for them. So far, Maryland has received $69.5 million from the Affordable Care Act in order to hold down insurance premiums, build competitive insurance marketplaces, provide insurance to early retirees, and strengthen their public health and prevention efforts.
One year later, we have given American families new patient protections and greater access to quality affordable health care. But if Republicans had their way, they would repeal the law and take away these benefits. We cannot roll back that progress. And we cannot go back to the days when insurance companies were in charge.
For more information on how the Affordable Care Act is working for Maryland families and businesses, please read my op-ed in The Gazette.
As always, thank you for allowing me to share this update with you, and please continue to share your concerns and insights with me by contacting my office.