U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) joined with Michigan health care advocates Thursday to highlight the 13th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
Hosted by the advocacy group Protect Our Care Michigan, the webinar also included Laura Appel of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, Laura Bonnell, the CEO of the Bonnell Foundation and Sarah Stark, a Michigan resident with diabetes.
The focus of the discussion was how Michiganders have benefitted from the law, which expanded access to health care by eliminating lifetime caps, expanding Medicaid, and securing protections for millions of people living with pre-existing conditions.
In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) lowered premiums for middle- and working-class families by an average of $2,400 a year.
“Thanks to the ACA, more than 21 million Americans have gained coverage through Medicaid expansion, and Medicaid has become a pillar of the American health care system, demonstrating the overwhelming need and desire for affordable health coverage,” stated a press release. “Thanks to the ACA, health plans are also required to cover preventive care services without cost-sharing. Access to preventive care has improved health outcomes and reduced economic inequity. The ACA has helped reduce longstanding disparities in coverage rates, improving health care access for children, rural Americans, people with disabilities, and people of color across the nation.”
“The Affordable Care Act was one of the biggest legislative and public health achievements of our lifetimes – and also something that is deeply personal to me. It’s done incredible things for people in Michigan and across the country by changing our health care system to put working families first, which is why we’re commemorating today’s 13th anniversary of its signing,” said Slotkin. “In 2009, my mom was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer, and because it was legal at the time for insurance companies to price gouge those with pre-existing conditions, she did not have insurance. At the same time that we were scheduling her emergency surgery, we were also helping her file for bankruptcy. The very simple idea that if you have a pre-existing condition you should not be gouged was a central part of the ACA, along with crucial provisions that subsidized insurance, allowed children to remain on their parents’ plans until 26, and expanded Medicaid access. These landmark reforms are why we continue to fight back against attacks on the ACA, and why I’m proud to be an ally to everyone who has worked to defend this law and build on its achievements.”
Laura Appel, Executive Vice President for Government Relations and Public Policy for the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, said that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the emergency department is no longer a first resort for many Michiganders with basic health care needs.
“This has allowed hospitals and providers across the state to continue to advance the health and wellness of individuals and communities,” she said.
“I know firsthand the Affordable Care Act has literally added years to the lives of Michiganders and Americans across the country,” said Laura Bonnell, CEO of the Bonnell Foundation, which supports families with children who have cystic fibrosis. “This includes my two daughters, both of whom have cystic fibrosis, and would otherwise struggle to ever obtain coverage with a pre-existing medical condition. This historic law has allowed my children to receive continuous, quality care for this debilitating illness without facing astronomical medical bills.”
“As a diabetic, insulin is as important to me as water,” said Sarah Stark, a Type 1 diabetic and Highland Township resident. “As a student, I experienced a lapse in coverage, making it impossible for me to obtain insulin without spending hundreds of dollars I didn’t have to cover the cost. When the ACA took effect, I qualified for expanded Medicaid and had coverage for my lifesaving insulin. This historic law meant I didn’t have to put my future on hold.”
Protect Our Care operates as a 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofit that works to expand access to affordable, high-quality health insurance, lower the cost of health care for individuals and families and reduce inequities in health care based on gender, income, race, ethnicity, geography, or sexual preference.