Health Care Reform Legislation One Year Later

Some families already benefit from the bill, while others have hope for the future.

Posted: 03/23/2011 12:58 PM EDT

A year after the signing of the Affordable Care Act, Democratic lawmakers have fanned out across the nation, singing its praises.

“There is not a single section of the Affordable Care Act that does not have a significant and positive impact for African-Americans and all minority communities,” Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver said. “And one of the things that I think is critically important that we can’t say enough is that it provides vital protections for those with pre-existing conditions and insuring dependent coverage, as well preventative services and care.”

The Affordable Care Act was signed into law March 23, 2010, and aims to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable health insurance coverage and to end abuses by carriers by prohibiting them from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or increasing the cost of premiums for people who experience a sudden illness or disease. It is the centerpiece of President Obama’s domestic agenda, but passed only after months of bitter partisan debate. In fact, it is believed to have cost House Democrats their majority last fall.

Dr. Deneta Sells, a Georgia-based pediatrician, said that her patients’ families have an increased sense of security since the bill was passed, particularly those of young children with asthma or diabetes, two diseases that disproportionately affect African-Americans.

“Before the Affordable Care Act, they worried about pre-existing conditions and exclusions. Would their children be able to get insurance as adults? Would they be able to insure their [young adult] children if they lost their jobs or wanted to start a new business?” said Sells. “Today they feel they can rest easy, and I hear this from them every day.

Renee Ford, a wife and mother of five, has experienced firsthand the financial devastation that unexpected illness can bring as a result of her husband’s end-stage renal failure diagnosis several years ago. Currently, her adult children and pharmaceutical companies are helping the couple pay for exorbitantly expensive organ-rejection medicine.

“We’re very excited about health care reform and the health insurance exchange program because we know there’s hope for us where we had none before,” Ford said. “We were just out there in the wind and on the mercy of anyone who would help us. But now there’s hope; we can buy into the health insurance exchange program.”

 

 

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

From Our Partners