Washington, D.C., March 23, 2020 – As we work together to address one of the biggest public health challenges to face this nation, the American Public Health Association is grateful that so many Americans have access to affordable and comprehensive health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. While our public health workforce labors tirelessly to prevent, control and contain the spread of COVID-19, the coverage the ACA is providing is crucial for protecting our communities.
“Given that COVID-19 is in every U.S. state and cases continue to rise, having health insurance can mean the difference between life and death,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD. “Without health insurance, people with COVID-19 may be afraid to go to the hospital because of a fear of crushing medical costs.
“The fact that there is a call by governors and legislators for a special open enrollment period for ACA coverage right now shows how much this law is valued.”
On the 10th anniversary of the enactment of this historic law, there is reason to celebrate. Under the ACA, 20 million previously uninsured Americans now have affordable, comprehensive health insurance coverage.
Thanks to the law, nearly 135 million people are protected against discrimination because of a preexisting condition, meaning they cannot be denied coverage or charged more based on their health status. Importantly, the law also requires coverage for critical preventive health care services such as vaccinations, disease screenings, well-child visits and tobacco cessation counseling without co-pays or deductibles through private health insurance.
The ACA is also critical to ensuring the health of our next generation of leaders by allowing millions of young adults up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans.
“The ACA continues to address the biggest challenges facing our health system, including shifting our health system from one that focuses on treating the sick to one that focuses on keeping people healthy,” Benjamin said.
The ACA provides critical mandatory funding through the Prevention and Public Health Fund for state, local and community-based prevention and public health activities. The fund has already provided billions of dollars to support public health activities in every state, including tracking and preventing infectious disease, community and clinical prevention programs, bolstering the public health infrastructure and workforce and expanding access to childhood immunizations.
Unfortunately, even as the nation faces the challenges of combating the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACA remains under threat both in the courts and through efforts within the current administration to weaken the law’s protections.
APHA and its members will continue to defend the historic gains that have been made under the law and to work to further expand and strengthen the law to ensure all Americans have access to health care coverage, access and prevention and wellness programs they need to protect and improve their health and the health of their families.