Written by Senator Robert Menendez, MomsRising
March 23rd is the two-year anniversary of the historic passage of the Affordable Care Act. I have always believed that all Americans, including Hispanic Americans, should have access to affordable, quality health care. As a Member of the Senate Finance Committee, I worked to help enact a reform bill that improves our health care system so that American families can afford good health coverage. This law will extend coverage to millions of Americans, including Hispanics, and improve the quality of coverage for those who already have it.
Latinos have much to gain under the Affordable Care Act’s provisions to expand access to health care coverage:
• Thanks to health reform we’re expanding access to affordable health coverage by providing tax credits to employers, allowing the uninsured to buy low-cost plans through a health insurance “exchange,” and providing subsidies for low- to moderate-income families who cannot afford coverage. Prior to the passage of health reform, almost one-third of Latinos in the U.S. had no health insurance.
• Health reform expands public health insurance programs like the National Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid for children, and allowing parents to keep their adult children on the parents’ health insurance plans until they are 26. Young adults, are the group most likely to be uninsured. Right now, roughly two in five Latino children (39 percent) are uninsured, but will soon be able to get coverage.
• Health reform will dedicate $11 billion in federal funding for community health centers to improve access to care in underserved areas, including rural and Spanish-speaking and low-income communities. More than one-third of Latinos report problems understanding or communicating with their doctor, so increasing access to bi-lingual Community Health Centers is vital to increasing access to quality care.
• Insurance plans will no longer be able to deny coverage based on a preexisting conditions. More than one in six U.S. Latinos under the age of 65 have preexisting conditions, which could have prevented them from getting coverage without health care reform. In 2014, the Affordable Care Act will prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions.
• Additionally, Health Reform increases Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico and gives the island the resources needed to establish a health insurance “exchange” to allow uninsured islanders to afford low-cost plans.
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