ACA: There are Opinions and then There are Facts

This week, groups across the country are recognizing the second anniversaryof the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its impact on children and youth. While there is much debate surrounding the ACA between honorable people on both sides of the party line, there are some facts which cannot be denied. Despite the debates, we know the ACA is positive for vulnerable children. Yesterday’s op-ed  in the Lexington Herald-Leader by Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates,  outlined exactly how kids have benefitted and will continue to benefit if the child provisions of the ACA are protected.

See the op-ed below or on the Lexington Herald-Leader website here.

No debate: Ky. children gain from health reform

By: Terry Brooks

This week marks the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). No one can deny that this anniversary promises vigorous debates among supporters of the ACA and those working to overturn it. In fact, the anniversary just adds to the ongoing contentious debates on several of the ACA provisions.  The various provisions contained in the over 2000 page law hits home and affects individuals, businesses, providers, and so many other groups in a wide spectrum of ways, both positive and negative, clearly showing the law will impact everyone differently. The future of the ACA is not known and its full impact, both good and bad, is also not yet known. One thing that cannot be denied, however, is that the ACA, on a most basic level, benefits vulnerable kids in Kentucky.

Today, because of the ACA, kids with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and asthma can’t be denied the care they need. And children across Kentucky are receiving preventive care like immunizations without their parents having to pay “out-of-pocket” costs so they can avoid illness and we can avoid unnecessary health care costs for preventable problems. Young adults have a better shot at starting productive adult lives, due to the ACA’s guarantee that they can get health care coverage through their parents’ policy until age 26.

For example, Lisa of Louisville has firsthand experience with the child benefits of the ACA. Her daughter Allie was not ready to begin college right after high school due to setbacks from dealing with anorexia and other mental health issues. Lisa was very concerned about her daughter’s health insurance which had been through her father’s fire department policy since her birth, yet was very relieved to find that Allie could continue to be covered on her father’s insurance until her 26th birthday. This gives Allie more time to catch up socially and emotionally so, as her mother hopes, she can get enrolled in school full time and or find a career path that will provide medical benefits of her own.

If federal and state leaders protect the child provisions in the ACA, kids will see more wins in a few years. They’ll be protected from their insurance companies placing lifetime caps on their coverage and benefits, so if a child beats leukemia at age eight, she will still be able to get the care she needs if it relapses at twenty. When you add up the numbers, more than 360,000 Kentucky kids will be protected by the ACA’s ban on lifetime coverage caps. And more than 180,000 Kentucky children will be able to receive preventative care such as well-child visits and other screenings with no out-of-pocket costs.

There needs to be honest debate about the best way to solve Kentucky’s vast health care problems such as enrolling the over 600,000 uninsured Kentuckians in affordable health care coverage or reducing Kentucky’s high rates of chronic disease. We have seen many debates about these issues over the past few months with the implementation of statewide Medicaid managed care in Kentucky. When it comes to important social problems like the fact that Kentucky families can’t afford the health care they need, a robust debate about the right solutions is a good thing.

There is room for different views, but not for different facts, and the fact is that millions of children nationwide, including our children here in Kentucky, are already benefiting from the ACA. So, yes, let’s debates the pros and cons. But let’s not deny the simple fact that the ACA is good for kids and kids should be spared from the politics and animosity of this debate.

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