Posted by Elisabeth Wright Burak on January 24th 2011
Tomorrow the House Public Health committee will consider a bill that would try to opt Arkansas out of the many benefits and protections offered by the health reform bill passed last year by Congress. House Bill 1053 is a symbolic attempt to undermine the new health law-the Affordable Care Act-that is already helping thousands of Arkansans.
The issue of the individual mandate is one that is already working its way through the court system. Let's not spend our limited resources fighting this battle in the courts when we can instead work for strong implementation of the Affordable Care Act here in Arkansas.
Let's put our energy and resources into moving forward, not backward, for the health of Arkansans.
The Affordable Care Act has already created important protections for children and families. Let's not go back to the bad old days when losing a job or getting sick meant losing your family's health care.
The Affordable Care Act has already ensures that:
- Children can't be denied insurance coverage because of a preexisting condition like asthma or cancer.
- Over 13,000 college-age children in Arkansas have the option to stay on their parents' policies until they turn 26.
- Coverage can no longer be canceled when someone in the family gets sick.
- A serious illness like leukemia or ALS won't bury families in debt because of lifetime limits on payments for care.
- You can't be charged extra for seeking urgent care at an emergency room that is not in the insurance company's provider network.
- Insurance companies have to spend at least some of your premiums on care, rather than advertising or CEO salaries.
- Prescription drugs are more affordable for over 40,000 Arkansas seniors receiving Medicare.
- Seniors receive free screenings for cancer and other diseases.
We also know the new federal health law has potential to improve economic activity as new federal tax credits and other dollars move through the system in the coming years. Over 40,000 Arkansas small businesses are eligible for tax credits if they choose to offer health coverage. And every dollar from the Medicaid expansion in 2014 could benefit the economy six times over, according to the recent Walton School of Business study.
House Bill 1053 does not offer a solution to our broken healthcare system, it simply works to undermine the federal law that millions of Americans support. Our focus should be on moving forward, not backward-putting the right rules and systems in place to deliver quality, affordable, dependable care that works for families and our state's economy.
UPDATE: The bill failed to pass in committee, receiving only seven votes in favor (12 against).