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It’s been a little over 24 hours since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act went into effect. Now, we have real reform that lowers costs, holds insurance companies accountable and guarantees more choice for consumers. Together, we fought against and beat back powerful special interests and partisan extremists to deliver real results and meaningful reform for Central Jersey’s middle-class families. Not only were we able to ensure that this reform would be deficit neutral, it will even lower the debt by slowing the growth rate of health care costs. And this was all done in an effort to bring about better, more-accessible, high-quality health care for all.
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Yesterday was a truly historic day, for every family that has worried about whether they can have access to affordable, quality health care that can’t be taken away at the whim of an insurance bureaucrat.
I view access to quality health care as a basic human right. It’s a civil right. And for the first time in American history, that right is now acknowledged via law. I’m proud of my work as Chair of the Health Subcommittee to help put this legislation together, but it was your hard work rallying your friends and neighbors that made it’s passage possible. The fact that health care reform is now a reality proves that you were able to make your voices heard loud and clear.
The new Patient’s Bill of Rights that’s taken effect will protect millions of consumers from the health insurance industry’s worst practices. We’ve stopped insurance companies from continuing to discriminate against kids with pre-existing conditions. As many as 72,000 children will now be extended coverage, while up to 90,000 kids under the age of 19 will no longer have benefits suddenly slashed because of prior medical problems These same protections will be phased-in for adults.
Each and every year, more than 10,000 people have their coverage taken away simply because they became ill or made a mistake on their original application. Now, insurers are prohibited from dropping a customer when they get sick. Nor can they go back and comb over an application looking for errors in order to rescind or deny payments for services. We’ve also made sure that insurers must cover all emergency care, whether it’s in- or out-of-network. And insurers are now compelled to allow primary care physician status for OB/GYNs and pediatricians.
With your help, we’ve made it so children can now stay on their parents’ health plans until they are 26 years old. This will surely help those just out of college during these tough economic times. As many as 1.8 million uninsured young people can now gain coverage. Nearly 600,000 additional people who purchase insurance in the individual market can now find coverage, as well.
When it comes to America’s seniors, they’ll now have more help to get the prescription drugs needed to stay healthy and out of the hospital. Fewer people will become seriously ill and incur outrageous medical bills for hospital and nursing home care. From an economic standpoint, healthier people save the government and health care system significant money. While speaking of finances, I also want to point out that we made sure to help businesses obtain tax credits so they can better afford coverage for their employees.
Here is one unassailable fact: 32 million more Americans will now be able to see a doctor on a regular basis because of the law that went into effect yesterday. We’ve given nearly every American citizen access to quality health care coverage – the same given to members of Congress. And we’ve put an end to insurance company abuses.
The Affordable Care Act benefits Americans of all ages. If you want to see for yourself how the new health care legislation may affect you, you can check out the White House’s new website. Here you can learn how this wonderful reform is already making health care more accessible and affordable throughout the country, state-by-state, story-by-story. Health care reform has been a huge upward climb for all of us. But these new laws, that are now being put into action, will greatly alleviate the fears and struggles Americans have been dealing with as it relates to their health care. Together, we took on the insurance and health care industries to deliver for families all across our state and our nation – and now we can begin to reap the benefits.