By Megan Burks
Affordable Care Act Turns Two
Today marks the second anniversary of the federal health reform law known as the Affordable Care Act. To celebrate, advocates and the media are taking a look at how far the law has come. The milestone also brings the law’s first major test—the Supreme Court will examine whether its insurance mandate is constitutional starting Monday.
If the court rules in favor of the reform, new provisions will continue to roll out through 2018. But already, the law has impacted a majority of Californians, according to HealthyCal.org and California Watch.
|• 350,000 young California adults have been able to stay on their parents’ family health plans
• 8,600 people who have been shut out of private insurance because of preexisting conditions have been accepted into a public high-risk insurance program
• 370,000 who can’t afford private insurance but do not qualify for Medi-Cal have been included in new public health plans
• Consumers have saved $100 million because of increased regulation of insurance rate hikes
• Seniors have saved $171 million on prescription drug costs
California Watch reports, however, that challenges have also cropped up as a result of health reform. Shifts in coverage have added red tape for some patients trying to maintain previous levels of care. There’s also concern California won’t have enough doctors and nurses to handle the growing number of Medi-Cal patients.
And many have questioned whether the law, which requires virtually all Americans to be insured, is constitutional. If the Supreme Court strikes down this piece of the law, economists say planned provisions wouldn’t be paid for and insurance rates and the number of uninsured would increase.
Food Stamps Under Fire
In a budget plan passed by the House Budget Committee Wednesday, Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) proposed significant cuts to food stamps and other social services.
The plan calls for $133.5 million in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, that would mean dropping 8 to 10 million individuals from the program or reducing monthly benefits by about $25 per person—that’s $100 less a family of four could spend on food each month.
The plan also plunders nearly all other federal programs. An analysis of the proposal by the Congressional Budget Office says federal programs other than Social Security, health care and defense would virtually cease to exist under the plan, which is unlikely to gain footing in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Congress is supposed to enact its final budget by Oct. 1.
Follow the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities @CenterOnBudget
Eastern and Western Medical Practices Merge in Merced, City Heights
The California Report shared a Merced program that brings Western-trained doctors and Hmong shamans together to improve treatment of Hmong patients. The shamans perform traditional healing techniques and doctors get help gaining the trust of patients who might need additional medical treatment or mental health services.
In City Heights, Eastern and Western health practices are also coming together at Integrative Health Nights. From 3 to 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month, practitioners offer nutrition classes, chair massage, acupuncture and yoga at the Scripps Rady City Heights Wellness Center.
Follow Scripps Health @ScrippsHealth
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