Today marks the eighth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) being signed into law. Thanks to the ACA, 20 million Americans have gained access to health coverage and care, including four million Latino adults and 600,000 Latino children.
Last year, we came together to protect these gains and the idea that everyone should have access to quality health care services. And while we were successful in protecting the law, threats remain.
As we celebrate the ACA’s eighth anniversary, we must continue to lift our voices to protect our community from efforts to cut access to quality health coverage and care.
Happy 8th birthday #ACA! Thanks to the ACA 4 million more Latinos have access to health coverage & essential health benefits like prescription drugs & mental health services pic.twitter.com/M38eIZFJXb
— UnidosUS (@WeAreUnidosUS) March 23, 2018
The gains we have realized because of the ACA go beyond access to coverage. The ACA also increased the quality of that coverage—72 preventive services are available free of charge, and every health plan must cover essential health benefits like doctor’s visits and prescription drugs.
The law also extended essential civil rights protections to our health care system for the first time, prohibiting discrimination based on nation of origin, race, age, sex, or disability.
While we stopped efforts to repeal and replace the ACA last year, critical consumer protections and health care benefits remain under threat. Recently, the Trump administration announced plans to expand the market for short-term, ‘junk plans’ that do not comply with the ACA’s consumer protections and are not required to cover essential health benefits like prescription drugs, mental health services, or maternity care. These plans would take us back to a time before the ACA, when health plans did not have to cover essential health benefits, and one in four Latinos did not have any coverage at all.
Last year, Republicans in Congress tried several times to repeal and replace the ACA and make drastic cuts to Medicaid. Each attempt to repeal the law was unsuccessful because our communities stood up and made their voices heard—by attending rallies, calling their member of Congress, going to town halls and even coming to Capitol Hill to express their opposition to health care cuts. We came together as a community to protect these gains last year, and we must do the same today.
The spirit of civic engagement and community activism helped us rally to protect the ACA. We must continue to use our collective voice to protect the community from threats to roll back hard-fought health care gains.