Today marks the second anniversary of the federal health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act. Here in Rhode Island elected officials, health care leaders, and Rhode Islanders who are benefiting for provisions of the law celebrated the passage in Providence.
“Although the country is still almost evenly divided over the Affordable Care Act, here in Rhode Island we are fully committed to ensuring that Rhode Island is a national leader in implementing health reform. And for the Rhode Islanders who are already benefiting from provisions in the law in very important ways, health reform has improved their lives,” said Lt. Governor Roberts.
“The Affordable Care Act is already making a real difference for real people and real families in Rhode Island by improving access to higher-quality care, reducing health care costs, and giving Rhode Islanders new and better choices,” said Whitehouse. “Through her work to set up the state health insurance exchange, Lieutenant Governor Roberts is helping Rhode Island lead the way in expanding access to quality care and driving down costs.”
The highlights of the event were Rhode Islanders who told their stories of how they are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act, which continues to provide thousands in the state with insurance protections, preventive benefits, and resources to improve care.
For 22-year old Brianne of Providence, being able to stay on her mother’s insurance because of a provision in the ACA “has been a relief financially and emotionally trying to make ends meet.” The recent URI graduate is working part-time as a physical therapy aide and suffers from several allergies. Her mother’s coverage has ensured that Brianne can get the frequent medical attention her condition requires. As of June of last year, Brianne was one of over 7,500 young adults in Rhode Island who gained health coverage as a result of the reform law.
For frame shop owner Geoff, providing health coverage “is just the right thing to do.” Geoff was relieved to qualify for the Small Business Healthcare Tax Credit, a provision of the law made available in 2010 to make it more affordable for small businesses to offer health coverage to their employees. As a small business eligible for the credit, Geoff was able to claim up to 35% of premiums paid for his employees’ coverage and put that savings back into the business. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the tax credit will save U.S. small businesses $40 billion by 2019.
Jane, a senior citizen in affordable housing, had to pay out of her own pocket for expensive, life-saving drugs when she reached the coverage gap, known as the “donut hole.” Jane was one of almost 15,800 Rhode Islanders on Medicare who received a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescription drugs last year. Additionally, when over 14,800 Medicare beneficiaries in Rhode Island hit the donut hole in 2011, they received a 50 percent discount on their covered brand-name prescription drugs. That discount yielded an average savings of over $500 for each senior for a total savings of over $8.2 million to older Rhode Islanders.”
Participating in the event were
Lt. Governor Elizabeth H. Roberts, Chair of the RI Healthcare Reform Commission, along with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Tri-Regional Administrator Kathleen Otte from U.S. Administration on Aging, and community partners RI Health Coverage Project and Ocean State Action,
The event included state officials, community partners and RI Healthcare Reform Commission members. Also featured was an exhibit of student artwork on display from RISD instructor Lindsay Kinkade’s visual and graphic design class, “Making It (Healthcare Reform)Understandable.