September 28, 2012

Without Affordable Care Act, Millions More Would Be Struggling

Sister Carol Keehan, DC, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), issued the following statement.

The U.S. Census Bureau today reported that 48.6 million Americans were uninsured in 2011, down from 50 million in 2010 but still a reminder that people across our nation continue to lack health care coverage in a difficult economy.  While these findings of the Census Bureau represent a continued moral and economic challenge, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) brings signs of real progress.

As ACA provisions go into effect, many groups of people are obtaining coverage previously unaffordable or unavailable to them. Thanks in large part to the ACA, the uninsured rate for young adults — those between 19 and 25 years old — dropped 2.2 percent, according to the Census Bureau’s annual report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage.

In addition to coverage for at least three million young adults, the ACA has provided $2.1 billion in premium rebates to consumers; preventive Medicare benefits for 32.5 million seniors; tax credits for small businesses; and restrictions on denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition.

Now we must continue to implement this law to protect middle-class families and those persons trying to find stable employment and health insurance. We must be especially attentive to the stress and insecurity felt by the 48 million Americans who have no health care access. Approximately 30-32 million of these people will be eligible for coverage under ACA in the coming years — we must help make their access to health care a reality.

Together with our member organizations, CHA also will work to ensure that the Medicaid expansion allowed by the ACA moves forward. Governors in every state should accept the opportunity to expand coverage under Medicaid, which provides vital health coverage and helps stimulate the economy.

The need for a strong, sustainable safety net is as real and important as ever. Policymakers should prioritize their concern for human dignity and the common good as they deliberate about how best to address the coming ‘fiscal cliff’ and our nation’s budget challenges. Such steps should be taken without harming vulnerable persons or imperiling the ability of health care providers to deliver the best possible care to all who need it.