The need for continued health care reform hits close to home. Florida ranks second in the rate of uninsured in the Nation. According to the U.S. Census data a total of roughly 3.8 million people, which equates to one quarter of the state’s population are uninsured. The majority of the uninsured residents of Florida reside in the southern part of the state. Furthermore, over 47 million Americans are uninsured and millions more are underinsured. And, to make matters worse, our nation is suffering from health care disparities in which people are disproportionally affected by diseases as a result of their race, sexual orientation, socio-economic group, and place of residence.
As a Member of Congress since 1992, I have always advocated for smart, comprehensive, and sustainable health care reform.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA, please see Health Care Reform: The Affordable Care Act) is a historic step we’ve made in improving the overall health of Florida and our nation. In its first year the ACA open enrollment period in the Health Care Marketplace permitted Florida families and individuals to benefit from a broad range of new health insurance options, with lower-than-expected rates. This year the open enrollment begins Saturday, November 15, 2014 and will be open through Saturday, February 15, 2015.
Even prior to enrollment into the marketplace many young adults across the state and the nation benefited from the provision in the Affordable Care Act that permitted them to remain on their parent’s health insurance policies until age 26. Additionally, businesses offering health insurance to their employees have benefited by receiving eligible tax credits.
The Affordable Care Act is working to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for millions of Americans, while improving quality. These improvements have been particularly evident for millions of previously uninsured Americans and those whose insurance was inadequate and unreliable. By expanding access the ACA has substantially reduced the number of uninsured, it is estimated that 10.3 million uninsured individuals have received coverage, through the Marketplace, CHIP or Medicaid, since the implementation of the law this year. That equates to a 26% reduction in the rate of uninsured. Moreover, expanding access has increase choice and completion in the healthcare market, which means there are more options and in 2015 there will be a 25% increase in the total number of issuers available for consumers to choose from. Many are already seeing lower costs and better coverage, in fact 105 million Americans have had a lifetime limit on their coverage eliminated. Even more compelling is that up to 17 million children who have pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage by insurers.
Affordability which was the impetus for the creation of the law is truly making a difference for middle class families. Since 2011 American consumers have saved $9 billion, primarily because the law mandates that insurance companies have to spend at least 80 cents of every dollar consumers pay in premiums towards quality health care. Additionally, in 2013 families received an average rebate of $80, this is money that many hardworking families have used to pay for living expenses like grocery and electric bills. For the seniors and those with disabilities across the nation over 5.1 million have saved $3.2 billion on their prescription drugs. The ACA is making prescriptions more affordable for seniors by phasing out the Medicare donut hole. Plus, the savings don’t stop with individuals, businesses too are seeing savings. The law is making coverage more affordable for small business by providing tax credits and protection from excessive price increase. The hospitals have also experienced increased affordability because of the Affordable Care Act, in fact it is projected that in 2014 alone hospitals will save $5.7 billion in uncompensated care costs.
A look at the numbers: Affordable Care Act’s Impact on Florida
Florida’s 20th Congressional District
State of Florida Totals
Uninsured individuals now insured
# of Individuals who Purchased New Insurance through the 2013 Health Insurance Marketplace
# of Young Adults Who Stayed on Their Parents' Plan
Unisured Individuals Due to State's Refusal to Expand Medicare
Individuals with Health Insurance that Now Covers Preventative Services without Co-Pays, Coinsurance, or Deductible
# of Seniors who Received Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Discounts
33,400 / $11.9 Million worth
1,251,300 / $338.1 Million worth
# of Seniors who now have Health Insurance that Covers Preventative Services without Co-Pays, Coinsurance, or Deductible
# of Individuals Protected by ACA Provision Limiting Insurance Company Spending on Profits & Administrative Overhead
(Over 33,400 Individuals Received $5.9 Million in Insurance Rebates)
(Over 1,251,300 Individuals Received $219.9 Million in Insurance Rebates)
# of Children with Preexisting Health Conditions That Can No Longer be Denied Coverage under ACA
# of Individuals that have Insurance with no Annual or Lifetime Limits on Coverage
However, sustained improvement in the health care system will require cooperation among the medical community, government, organizations, and everyday people.
Furthermore, I also proudly supported legislation to provide quality health care to 11 million kids through the State Children’s Healthcare Insurance Program (SCHIP); extend by six months the increased Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) in order to help states meet the elevated demand for Medicaid services and avoid severe cuts to Medicaid providers and benefits as well as other essential state programs; improve school meals for our nation’s students; reduce childhood obesity; and provide a path to ending childhood hunger.
In addition, I have supported, and will continue to support, funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and research, including for Ryan White HIV/AIDS programs and state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs); cancer research; women’s health services; community health centers and organizations; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Finally, I remain committed to this and future generations by ensuring the preservation and continued improvement of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This includes finding a permanent solution to the Sustainable Growth Rate System (SGR), the method for determining annual updates to the Medicare physician fee schedule. We must ensure that Medicare beneficiaries, especially older Americans, have continued access to physician services and care.
Achieving comprehensive health care reform requires a uniquely American approach that preserves what works and introduces new elements that will allow us to meet 21st century needs and goals. I pledge to continue working with my colleagues in the 114th Congress to make health care more affordable and accessible for all, especially middle class, working poor, and other vulnerable Americans. Please also know that, at this critical time in our nation’s economic recovery, creating more of the jobs that the American people need and deserve is my top priority.