(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement on tomorrow’s anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law.

“One year ago, I stood with a little boy from Washington state named Marcelas Owens as we watched President Obama sign health care reform into law. More than 10,000 Washington state residents had sent me their health care stories—about their troubles accessing affordable care, paying for prescription drugs, or covering their employees.  And thanks to this important law, our health care system is now working better for them and millions more in Washington state and across the country. 

“Thanks to health care reform, seniors across our state are receiving checks to help them pay for their prescription drugs, kids can stay on their parents health care until the age of 26, children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage, and small business owners are getting tax  credits to help cover their employees.  And for the first time, insurance companies will now have to compete for the business of the American people. 

“The first year of health care reform has moved us in the right direction, but the work is far from over. As new programs are put in place over the next few years to help Washington state families get the care they need at a cost they can afford, I am going to watch closely to make sure they continue working the way they were intended to. And I will work with anyone who wants to make additional improvements to the health care system to make it work better for our families, seniors, and small business owners.”

Information below released by the White House on March 21, 2011:

See the full report on the benefits of health care reform for Washington state

As One Year Anniversary of Health Reform Law Approaches, White House Report Outlines Benefits for Washington

As the Obama Administration marks the one-year anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the White House today issued a report highlighting the benefits of health reform for Washington residents. Signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act has given Washington residents more freedom and control over their health care choices.

The Affordable Care Act is:

Reducing costs for seniors and strengthening Medicare.

More than 62,543 Washington residents who hit the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole” received $250 tax-free rebates, and will receive a 50% discount on brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole this year.  By 2020, the law will close the donut hole completely. And nearly all 44 million beneficiaries who have Medicare, including 827,000 in Washington, can now receive free preventive services – like mammograms and colonoscopies – as well as a free annual wellness visit from their doctor

Offering new coverage options.

Insurance companies are now required to allow parents to keep their children up to age 26 without job-based coverage on their insurance plans. An estimated 25,900 young adults in Washington could gain insurance coverage as a result of the law.  Additionally, most insurance companies are now banned from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition.  An estimated 372,000 kids with a pre-existing condition in Washington will be protected because of this provision.

Lowering costs for small businesses.

The law provides $40 billion of tax credits to up to 4 million small businesses, including up to 106,052 in Washington to help offset the costs of purchasing coverage for their employees and make premiums more affordable. 

Improving the quality of coverage.

All Americans with insurance are now free from worrying about losing their insurance due to a mistake on an application, or having it capped unexpectedly if someone is in an accident or becomes sick. 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.  The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014.  This will protect 4.1 million Washington residents with private insurance coverage from these limits. 

Providing flexibility and resources to States.

The Affordable Care Act also gives States the flexibility and resources they need to implement the law in the way that works for them. Under the law, States have received millions of dollars in Federal support for their work to hold down insurance premiums, build competitive insurance marketplaces, provide insurance to early retirees, and strengthen their public health and prevention efforts.  So far, Washington has received $84.6 million from the Affordable Care Act. Grants to Washington include:

  • $748,500 to support a consumer assistance program
  • $1 million to plan for a Health Insurance Exchange
  • $1 million to crack down on unreasonable insurance premium increases
  • $31.9 million to support capital development in community health centers
  • $8.5 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund
  • $34.1 million in Therapeutic Discovery Project Program Tax Credits and Grants
  • $334,295 for Medicare improvements for patients and providers
  • $3.7 million for demonstration projects to address health professions workforce needs
  • $1.8 million for Maternal, Infant and Childhood Home Visiting
  • $1.6 million for Pregnancy Assistance Fund programs