The right measure of the ACA isn’t whether it avoids political controversy; it’s whether it makes America better by achieving its five most fundamental goals: expanding health-insurance coverage, lowering costs and promoting fiscal responsibility, increasing quality through innovation, protecting seniors and delivering peace of mind to American families by guaranteeing essential rights in dealing with insurance companies.
By that standard the law is already a success. Health insurance has expanded. More than 5 million Americans have signed up for coverage through federal and state marketplaces; millions have been determined eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program; and 3 million young adults gained insurance through their parents’ coverage.
Even more compelling than statistics are the letters hard-working Americans are sharing with the president. Their unscripted and private testimonials are building a lasting record of the life-changing—and often lifesaving—impacts the ACA is having. One woman from Colorado shared what the peace of mind of having coverage meant to her. “After using my new insurance for the first time, you probably heard my sigh of relief from the White House,” she wrote to President Obama. “I felt like a human being again. I felt that I had value.”
At the same time, costs are coming down. The Congressional Budget Office found the health care law is making significant contributions to fiscal responsibility. The CBO’s most recent estimates show that repealing the law would actually increase deficits by $1.7 trillion over the next 20 years. Moreover, average premiums for coverage through the marketplaces are about 15 percent lower than the CBO previously projected.
There’s more good news when it comes to health care and Medicare spending. The rate of increase in real health spending per person is at its lowest point in 50 years and more than 3 percentage points under the historical average, according to recent data. Growth in the average cost of care for a person enrolled in Medicare is also at unusually low levels, and if that success is maintained, it will translate into trillions in savings over the decades to come. Those savings can be used to pay down our deficit or invest in infrastructure, education, innovation and other key national priorities.
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