Man has wrong idea of Affordable Care Act

Dec. 21, 2013 at 6:21 a.m.

Dave Sather's Dec. 17 column argues that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made things worse for those who need insurance. While I have no doubt that this is Sather's opinion, it is not consistent with the facts.

Sather was not aware that the ACA is supported by the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the American Association of Retired Persons, the American Academy of Pediatrics and many other health organizations. These organizations fought hard for the protections the ACA brought. In suggesting to readers that hospitals are opposed to the act, Sather was incorrect - the American Hospital Association supported the ACA. Contrary to Sather's statements, leading hospitals are already caring for patients who have coverage approved by the ACA. Though not every provider accepts every insurance plan, which was also the case before the ACA, no hospital has "opted out" of the Affordable Care Act.

What each Texan should know is this: No matter what policy you have, whether through an employer or purchased individually, it is an ACA-approved policy. This is because the ACA sets minimum standards for all health insurance policies, whether through employers, through the marketplace or directly from insurers. The good news is that under the ACA, preventive care is covered, children can stay on their parents' insurance, there are no more preexisting condition exclusions, and there are no more lifetime caps.

Before the ACA, children with cancer or diabetes or other serious conditions would never be able to get individual insurance, being forever branded with a "preexisting condition." These children are human beings, not just a column in an insurer's actuarial tables. No parent should be told that because their small child has cancer, that the child will be denied health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act was passed to provide access to heath care that millions of Americans previously never had and to provide protection to the millions of Americans whose insurance policies were filled with holes, caps and exclusions. As with any important new statute, there are hitches and glitches to be worked out, and they will be. Even now, there are many ways that thousands of Americans are enrolling in coverage every day. People can now shop for policies that best fit their needs, and subsidies for health insurance mean that policies are affordable for everyone. Deadlines for securing insurance has been delayed where necessary. Since the ACA was passed in 2010, the growth in health care costs has slowed to its lowest rate in decades.

Especially during this holiday season, we can agree that health insurance should not be a privilege only for those with good health or the most wealth. It should be available to everyone in our community. The ACA doesn't drive us toward a two-class society; it drives us toward a fair and just society in which all Americans, regardless of their preexisting conditions, have coverage to protect them when they need it the most.

John Griffin is a Victoria resident, and was the 2011 Chair of the National Board of Directors of the American Diabetes Association. He, as well as a sister, niece and nephew all have diabetes.



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