While Republicans denounce court decision, Virginians benefit from Affordable Care Act

Leading Virginia Republicans were among those voicing dismay at the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to uphold the Affordable Care Act, passed by Democrats in Congress and signed by President Obama in 2010.

Gov. Bob McDonnell said: “Today’s Supreme Court ruling is extremely disappointing for Virginia and for America.”

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said: “This is a dark day for the American people, the Constitution, and the rule of law. This is a dark day for American liberty.”

US Senate candidate George Allen said: “My opponent [Tim Kaine] believes this health care law is a ‘great achievement,’ but I believe it’s an infringement on individual liberty and free enterprise…

“I want to be the deciding vote to repeal this health care law.”

Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte called the Supreme Court’s decision “a very bad result for the American people” and promised to work for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Now here are some of the ways that Virginians have benefited and will benefit from the ACA, which these Republicans want to repeal:

Providing new coverage options for young adults
Health plans are now required to allow parents to keep their children under age 26 without job-based coverage on their family coverage, and, thanks to this provision, 3.1 million young people have gained coverage nationwide. As of December 2011, 66,000 young adults in Virginia gained insurance coverage as a result of the health care law.

Making prescription drugs affordable for seniors
Thanks to the new health care law, 84,977 people with Medicare in Virginia received a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole in 2010. Since the law was enacted, Virginia residents with Medicare have saved a total of $83,949,689 on their prescription drugs. In the first five months of 2012, 16,509 people with Medicare received a 50 percent discount on their covered brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole. This discount has resulted in an average savings of $635 per person, and a total savings of $10,489,831 in Virginia. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole.

Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay
In 2011, 837,645 people with Medicare in Virginia received free preventive services – such as mammograms and colonoscopies – or a free annual wellness visit with their doctor. And in the first five months of 2012, 418,231 people with Medicare received free preventive services. Because of the law, 54 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 1,519,000 in Virginia.

Providing better value for your premium dollar through the 80/20 Rule
Under the new health care law, insurance companies must provide consumers greater value by spending generally at least 80 percent of premium dollars on health care and quality improvements instead of overhead, executive salaries or marketing. If they don’t, they must provide consumers a rebate or reduce premiums. This means that 686,738 Virginia residents with private insurance coverage will benefit from $43,127,639 in rebates from insurance companies this summer. These rebates will average $115 for the 376,000 families in Virginia covered by a policy.

Removing lifetime limits on health benefits
The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. Already, 2,974,000 residents, including 1,121,000 women and 817,000 children, are free from worrying about lifetime limits on coverage. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014.

Creating new coverage options for individuals with pre-existing conditions

As of April 2012, 1,498 previously uninsured residents of Virginia who were locked out of the coverage system because of a pre-existing condition are now insured through a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan that was created under the new health reform law.

Health plans cannot limit or deny benefits or deny coverage for a child younger than age 19 simply because the child has a “pre-existing condition” — that is, a health problem that developed before the child applied to join the plan.

Preventing illness and promoting health
Since 2010, Virginia has received $20 million in grants from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act. This new fund was created to support effective policies in Virginia, its communities, and nationwide so that all Americans can lead longer, more productive lives.

Increasing support for community health centers

The Affordable Care Act increases the funding available to community health centers in all 50 states, including the 152 existing community health centers in Virginia. Health centers in Virginia have received $72.4 million to create new health center sites in medically underserved areas, enable health centers to increase the number of patients served, expand preventive and primary health care services, and/or support major construction and renovation projects.

Strengthening partnerships with Virginia
The law gives states support for their work to build the health care workforce, crack down on fraud, and support public health. Examples of Affordable Care Act grants to Virginia not outlined above include:

–$400,000 to support the National Health Service Corps, by assisting Virginia in repaying educational loans of health care professionals in return for their practice in health professional shortage areas.

–$1.1 million for the expansion of the Physician Assistant Training Program, a five-year initiative to increase the number of physician assistants in the primary care workforce.

–$402,000 for school-based health centers, to help clinics expand and provide more health care services such as screenings to students.

–$660,000 to support outreach to eligible Medicare beneficiaries about their benefits.

–$503,000 to support Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs). ADRCs help seniors, people with disabilities, and their families understand and evaluate their long-term care options, including those available in their community.

–$191,000 for Family-to-Family Health Information Centers, organizations run by and for families with children with special health care needs.

–$933,000 to support the Personal Responsibility Education Program, to educate youth on both abstinence and contraception for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.

–$9.7 million for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs. These programs bring health professionals to meet with at-risk families in their homes and connect families to the kinds of help that can make a real difference in a child’s health, development, and ability to learn – such as health care, early education, parenting skills, child abuse prevention, and nutrition.

–$2.9 million from the Pregnancy Assistance Fund to provide pregnant and parenting teens and women with a seamless network of supportive services to help them complete high school or postsecondary degrees and gain access to health care, child care, family housing, and other critical support.

Here is a timeline with the Affordable Care Act benefits that have taken effect and will take effect through 2015.

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