Since it became law in March 2010, the Affordable Care Act has been working to restrain health care costs for consumers and small businesses alike by increasing access to affordable coverage, providing broader health insurance options and fostering the sense of security that comes with knowing that a family is no longer one expensive illness or injury away from bankruptcy. Because of our nation’s health care law, insurance companies finally are being held accountable for excessive rate increases and how they choose to spend consumers’ premium dollars. And under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are no longer able to deny or cancel health coverage because of a consumer’s previous illness, place lifetime and annual limits on our medical benefits, or charge women more for health care.
In communities across Colorado, our nation’s health law is putting consumers in charge of more of their health care. Free preventive health services such as screenings and vaccinations are now standard, and parents can keep their children enrolled on their health plans until they turn 26 years old. Additionally, thousands of Colorado seniors have saved more than $90 million on their prescription drugs because the law is finally closing the “donut hole” in Medicare’s prescription drug coverage.
Our nation’s health care law is doing more than just improving the level of care our families receive — it’s also expanding access to affordable coverage for tens of thousands of Coloradans. As part of this effort, our state has developed its own unique online health insurance marketplace to specifically meet the needs of our residents. This new marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado, provides a one-stop shop for individuals and small businesses to compare over 250 plans from 16 insurance carriers and pool their purchasing power. And with more options for purchasing health coverage, Coloradans have greater freedom to switch jobs or start a new business while being able to find affordable health insurance for their families. This is pure Colorado common sense.
The online marketplace also allows Coloradans to determine their eligibility for cost-saving tools like tax credits to help instantly reduce the cost of coverage. In fact, more than 80,000 small businesses and nearly 500,000 individuals in Colorado can take advantage of these tools to help them purchase more affordable health coverage. For more information on comparing health plans on Connect for Health Colorado and to see if you may be eligible for instant tax credits, please visit www.connectforhealthco.com or call 855-752-6749.
I am committed to making sure the health care reform law works for Colorado families. We cannot go back to the old, broken system when adults and children could be refused coverage because of a preexisting condition, the sick faced annual coverage limits and all of us were subject to persistent rate increases. It is simply unacceptable to go back to a time when thousands of uninsured Coloradoans had to show up in emergency rooms for basic care, forcing Coloradans who pay for insurance to foot the bill.
To be sure, no law is perfect. That’s why I have said since the beginning that I will continue working to improve our health care law so that it works for Colorado. Among other things, this includes:
- Fighting to keep insurance costs as low as possible for hardworking families;
- Pushing for consumers to be able to keep their existing health insurance;
- Successfully urging the Administration to ease burdens on small and mid-sized businesses by more gradually phasing in requirements that they provide their employees health insurance;
- Incorporating the best practices from Colorado’s most successful health care providers; and,
- Fighting for more doctors to serve rural areas of Colorado.
To see what I’ve been doing to make the Affordable Care Act work for Colorado — and to find more information about how this law affects you, your family or your business — please click HERE.
Our state's volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel protect Coloradans in times of crisis. In this age of modern mega-fires, their services are critical to many communities across the state, and nothing should prevent our brave first responders from protecting Colorado communities. That's why I called on the Internal Revenue Service to protect firehouses from unintended consequences under the health reform law. After pushing hard for action, I'm proud that the IRS heeded my call and made this common-sense rule change. It is crucial that we continue to make improvements to the Affordable Care Act so that it works for Colorado families and businesses. This is a necessary change that ensures a bureaucratic requirement does not have local communities fighting red tape instead of deadly fires.
Our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line to serve our country. When they return home, it is our duty to make sure our nation's veterans have access to the health care services they need and deserve. However, too many veterans on the Western Slope have to travel more than 100 miles to Denver or Salt Lake City for common surgeries. As part of my continued fight for veterans across the state, I called on Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to honor his commitment to bring back these common surgery capabilities to the Grand Junction VA hospital as soon as possible. Veterans residing in rural communities should not be burdened with excessive travel in order to access quality health care when a local hospital can meet their needs. It is crucial the VA fulfills its promise and brings the services our veterans need back to the Western Slope.
Read the op-ed I authored in the Denver Post addressing the growing problem of obesity and its impacts on our health, health care spending and quality of military recruits.
As Congress and President Obama continue to discuss the path forward on addressing our long-term debt and deficit, it is essential that the well-being of the Medicare program be a focus of that conversation. In order to protect Medicare, we need to address the unsustainable growth in spending for the program. I believe one of the biggest tools we have at our disposal to bring these costs down were provided by the health reform bill passed into law in 2010, the Affordable Care Act, which takes important steps to transform our health care delivery system into one that rewards high quality at low cost. That is why I joined 11 of my Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Obama on September 16, 2011, urging him to prioritize these delivery system reforms in deficit reduction efforts, in order to preserve benefits for Colorado seniors.
On July 22, 2011, I joined 28 senators in urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to swiftly adopt new recommendations called for in the 2010 health reform law that would allow women to access more life-saving preventive health services and screenings at no additional cost. As a result, beginning on August 1, 2012, more than 868,000 Colorado women will now have access to these important preventive services without any cost-sharing. I believe that removing cost barriers for women's preventive health care will save lives and ultimately lead to lower overall health care costs when health problems are caught and treated early.