Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas joined healthcare advocates in marking the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act with celebration and a call for vigilance.
He warned opponents remain determined to undo President Barack Obama’s signature piece of legislation, which has given more Americans access to affordable and high-quality health insurance than ever before.
“This should be a time when we are celebrating but, in reality, the Affordable Care Act is under attack,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said in a news conference at Planned Parenthood.
Signed into law on March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, expands the affordability, quality, and availability of private and public health insurance through consumer protections, regulations, subsidies, taxes, insurance exchanges and other reforms.
The Supreme Court upheld the ACA on June 28, 2012. However, a new legal challenge – “King V Burwell” – could block certain states from receiving the ACA subsidies that make healthcare affordable, resulting in millions of Americans becoming uninsured.
Meanwhile, congressional Republicans who have already failed more than 50 times to repeal the ACA are now proposing a federal budget for 2016 that would not only repeal the law but also partly privatize Medicare and slash Medicaid funding.
“If these cuts take place, they would have huge potential impacts to the county,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “We have to work hard to make sure this doesn’t become a reality because the people I represent and those in the rest of LA County need health care coverage.”
Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles vice president of public affairs Celinda Vazquez hailed the ACA as “one of the greatest health care advancements in our era – and the single biggest advancement for women’s health in generations.”
She noted, however, that California’s reimbursement rates for providers who treat MediCal patients ranks 49th in the nation. “Unless we have enough providers willing and able to care for these newly-insured people, we will not be able to realize the full potential of the ACA,” Ms. Vasquez said.
Thanks to the ACA, more than 60 percent of previously uninsured adults in California have healthcare coverage as of July 2014.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said the county is working to have the remainder obtain coverage under the program My Health LA, in collaboration with the Community Clinic Association and a network of advocacy and consumer groups. He also wants to expand school-based health clinics.