Think Progress: Saturday marks the three year anniversary of President Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. health care system since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. While some the law’s most significant provisions won’t go into full effect until next year, many of its important reforms have already taken hold — and have already changed the lives of real Americans for the better. Here are just a few ways that the Affordable Care Act has bolstered the health and financial security of Americans from all around the country:
Refusing coverage and treatments for sick Americans due to their “pre-existing medical conditions” has always ranked among the insurance industry’s most reviled practices. For decades, Americans have recounted horror stories about battling insurance companies while loved ones suffered — like 4-month-old Alex Lange, who was turned away by an insurer for being born “obese.” Thanks to Obamacare, that’s no longer legal, as the consumer protection for Americans with pre-existing conditions has already gone into effect for children.
Statement by the President on the Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act
Three years ago today, I signed into law the principle that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one should go broke just because they get sick. The Affordable Care Act will give hard-working, middle class families the health care security they deserve and protect every American from the worst insurance company abuses. Already, millions of seniors are saving $600 a year on their prescription drugs. Millions of young people have been able to stay on their family’s health plan until age 26. Preventive care, like mammograms for women and wellness visits for seniors, is covered free of charge. Most importantly, for the sake of our fiscal future, the growth of health care costs is beginning to slow. In fact, last year, Medicaid costs fell for the first time in decades.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will no longer have unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women more than men. And soon, no American will ever again be denied care or charged more due to a pre-existing condition, like cancer or even asthma.
Later this year, millions of Americans will finally have the opportunity to buy the same kind of health care Members of Congress give themselves. Beginning in October, you’ll be able to sign up for new private health care plans through a new health insurance marketplace where private plans will compete to save middle class families money. Through these marketplaces, Americans and small business owners will be able to choose from a menu of health plans that fit their budget and provide quality coverage they can count on when they need it most. If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you cannot afford a plan, you or your small business may get financial assistance to make it affordable.
There’s more work to do to implement this law, and I look forward to working with leaders of both parties to help Americans save money on health care and extend the security of coverage to every family.
Washington Post: The Senate approved a bipartisan agreement early Tuesday morning to let income taxes rise sharply for the first time in two decades, fulfilling President Obama’s promise to raise taxes on the rich and avoiding the worst effects of the “fiscal cliff.” The agreement, brokered by Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), passed 89 to 8 in a highly unusual New Year’s morning vote. It now heads to the House, where leaders have not guaranteed passage but top officials believe it could win passage in the next few days.
The agreement primarily targets taxpayers who earn more than $450,000 per year, raising their rates for wages and investment profits. At the same time, the deal would protect more than 100 million households earning less than $250,000 a year from income tax increases scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
President Obama: Leaders from both parties in the Senate came together to reach an agreement that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support today that protects 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small business owners from a middle class tax hike. While neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country and the House should pass it without delay.
This agreement will also grow the economy and shrink our deficits in a balanced way – by investing in our middle class, and by asking the wealthy to pay a little more.
What’s more, today’s agreement builds on previous efforts to reduce our deficits. Last year, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut spending by more than $1 trillion. Tonight’s agreement does even more by asking millionaires and billionaires to begin to pay their fair share for the first time in twenty years. As promised, that increase will be immediate, and it will be permanent.
There’s more work to do to reduce our deficits, and I’m willing to do it. But tonight’s agreement ensures that, going forward, we will continue to reduce the deficit through a combination of new spending cuts and new revenues from the wealthiest Americans. And as we address our ongoing fiscal challenges, I will continue to fight every day on behalf of the middle class and all those fighting to get into the middle class to forge an economy that grows from the middle out, not from the top down.