When we formed our union nearly 30 years ago at Group Health, we voted ‘healthcare for all’ as part of our bylaws. We worked tirelessly to reform our system to serve the needs of patients, not the profits of insurance companies.As we celebrate the two year anniversary of healthcare reform, we’re seeing improvements in care for families, seniors, women, young adults, and communities of color.Insurance companies used to charge women more than men for insurance, and count domestic violence and c-sections as pre-existing conditions. Being a woman isn’t a ‘condition’ to fix, and now insurance companies have to end these discriminatory practices. We’re providing young adults with a better start as they transition out of high school and college, ensuring they can receive care while they go to school or look for a job. Our seniors can now afford their prescriptions instead of falling into the ‘doughnut hole’, and our community health centers will nearly double the number of patients they see with $11 billion in new funding.
We can’t turn back the clock on this progress and the improved care it’s brought to our patients and families. We’re on the frontlines and at the bedside each day to make sure that each patient receives the best care, and that includes protecting the improvements we’ve seen under healthcare reform.
As nurses and healthcare workers, we are the leading voice for our patients, and that’s why we need to continue to educate our communities about the Affordable Care Act. It’s up to us to continue to stand up to corporate interests and politicians who believe in a broken system that only works for their profits, not for us.
Diane Sosne, RN, MN, President of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
Two years ago SEIU nurses and healthcare workers helped move our country in a new direction with the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Many benefits of healthcare reform are already making a difference:
- Patients are no longer denied care because they’ve hit a lifetime limit of benefits, and children can’t be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.
- We’re seeing better access as preventive care becomes free of charge in new plans and young adults can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.
- And insurance companies have new accountability, as states have new resources to prevent insurers from unjustified premium hikes and a guarantee that our premiums must go towards care delivery, not marketing or profit.
Who benefits from healthcare reform?
- 32 million Americans will gain affordable, quality healthcare under the new law.
- 1.2 million young adults will gain access to healthcare coverage through their parents’ health plans.
- 4 million small businesses will be eligible for healthcare tax credits to provide lower cost health insurance to their employees.
- 44 million seniors will receive free preventative care and those who hit the prescription drug ‘doughnut hole’ will pay less for life-saving prescriptions.
- 129 million Americans won’t be denied care for chronic illnesses and pre-existing conditions after 2014.
“Healthcare reform means we’re moving forward so more people have access to better care. We can’t go backwards to when insurance companies could deny coverage if we got sick, skyrocket premiums, or tell us that we’d reached a limit on our lifetime benefits. Our care is better today thanks to the Affordable Care Act.”
Scott Canaday, Angio Tech, Harborview Medical Center
A Guide to the Affordable Care Act
- In 2014, tax credits will be available to help families making up to $88,000 pay for healthcare.
- 15 million more Americans will be eligible for health coverage under Medicaid in 2014.
- Small businesses can group together and get the same kind of rates as big corporations.
- Competitively priced insurance offered through state-run exchanges, starting in 2014.
- Insurers cannot deny children coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
- Insurers are not allowed to drop people from health plans because of illness.
- After 2014, insurance companies barred from denying coverage to anyone with pre-existing condition.
- Basic benefits do not change.
- Free annual checkups and wellness programs.
- New efforts to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare system.
- More affordable prescription drugs for those who hit the “doughnut hole.”
- In 2014, families will pay lower premiums through state health insurance exchanges . A family of four with an income of $33,525 could save as much as $14,900 per year.
- As of 2018, seniors can expect to save on average $200 per year in premiums, more than $200 per year in coinsurance.
- According to the Congressional Budget Office, the law would save more than $100 billion over the next ten years, and more than $1 trillion in the following decade.
|“We worked to pass healthcare reform because we knew our healthcare system was in a crisis. We couldn’t afford to let it get worse, especially as we see more cuts to healthcare programs, leaving people without care. Some politicians already want to repeal healthcare reform, but we can’t let that happen.”
Kacey Alleman, Licensed Therapist, School-Based Mental Health Program, Catholic Community Services
“Women have better care under healthcare reform. Insurance companies used to count caesarean sections and domestic violence as pre-existing conditions. Now they can’t do that, and they can’t charge women more than men for insurance. We’re also guaranteed preventive care for breast and cervical cancer.”
Caridad Baker, RN 3, Western State Hospital
“I am extremely grateful to the Affordable Care Act, and I know that both of my boys are too. One of my sons is unemployed and my other son works for an employer that doesn’t offer health insurance. Because of the Affordable Care Act, my sons can stay on my insurance while they work toward getting jobs that offer healthcare.”
Mary Robinson, CS Tech, Deaconess Medical Center
“Thanks to healthcare reform, kids with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied coverage. So many of the premature babies I see have complications that require ongoing care, and insurance companies used to count that against them. Healthcare reform means better care, and huge relief for parents who know their kids will have coverage.”
Nancy Gladsjo, RN, Swedish Medical Center
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