Your Take: HHS Official on Health Care Reform
Two years old, the law is making a difference for blacks and others, says Dr. J. Nadine Gracia.
Additionally, 2.5 million young adults have gained coverage because the new health care law allows young adults to stay on their parents' insurance plans until the age of 26. Of these newly insured young adults, 1.3 million are minorities -- including 410,000 African Americans.
Furthermore, 10.4 million African Americans are now free of having to worry about lifetime limits on health benefits -- so cancer patients and those suffering from other chronic diseases no longer have to worry about forgoing treatment because of fears about hitting their lifetime cap.
Insurance companies are now banned from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition, such as asthma or a heart defect. Today the new Pre-Existing Condition Plan offered in every state gives people who have been locked out of the insurance market an option for health insurance. And starting in 2014, insurance companies will be banned from discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition.
The Affordable Care Act is also making health care more accessible in underserved communities. The new health care law increases funding for community health centers -- where nearly 26 percent of all patients treated in 2010 were African American. Through the National Health Service Corps program, the law is also providing new resources to increase the number of doctors, nurses and other health care providers in communities where they are needed the most, as well as enhancing the diversity of the health care workforce.
With the Affordable Care Act leading the way, we are making progress in the fight against health disparities -- and I am more hopeful than ever that we will achieve the promise of health equity in this country.
Read more about how the Affordable Care Act benefits African Americans at Healthcare.gov.
J. Nadine Gracia, M.D., is the deputy assistant secretary for minority health (acting) of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.