by Kathleen Sebelius
As the U.S. House prepares to hold another vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act, it's easy to dismiss the effort as political theater. But, for millions of Americans who rely on the law's benefits and protections, the devastating effects of repeal would be all too real.
Here's what repeal would mean in concrete terms for families in Arizona and across the country.
Thanks to the law, all Americans with insurance are now protected from some of the insurance industry's worst abuses, like having their coverage canceled when they get sick just because they made a mistake on an application, or facing a lifetime dollar cap on their benefits. Already, 2.09 million Arizona residents, including 769,000 women and 570,000 children, are free from worrying about lifetime coverage limits.
For people like Judy, a nurse I met who's battling Stage 4 breast cancer, these protections can be the difference between life and death. Judy has good insurance, but her expensive radiation and chemotherapy treatments mean that, without the law, she'd likely hit her lifetime cap in just a few years. For Judy and millions more Americans, repeal would mean a return to knowing they could lose their coverage at any time.
For tens of millions of Americans with health insurance, repeal would also mean paying more for preventive care. Under the law, 54 million people with private health insurance, including 1.06 million in Arizona, can now get free preventive care like vaccinations, check-ups and cancer screenings. Repeal would mean that hundreds of dollars in savings a year could disappear.
For people in communities facing a shortage of doctors and nurses, repeal would make it even harder to get the quality care they need to stay healthy.
Today, the health-care law is building and expanding community health centers in some of America's most medically underserved regions and training thousands of new doctors and nurses who will provide primary care around the country.
Repeal would also take us back to the days when insurance companies were not accountable to anyone.
With the new health law, your insurance company now generally has to spend at least 80 cents of every premium dollar on health care and quality improvements, not CEO salaries or advertising. If they don't, you get a rebate.
This summer, 235,000 Arizona families with private insurance will benefit from an average of $118 in rebates from insurance companies as a result of this new provision.
For seniors, repeal would mean they'd lose free preventive care, like cancer screenings and annual wellness visits now available in Medicare without any co-pay. Millions of seniors who reach the Medicare prescription-drug doughnut hole would also see their 50 percent discount vanish if the health care law was repealed.
Finally, repeal means that millions of Americans would lose their insurance. Three million young adults may not be covered any longer on their parents' health plans, including 69,000 in Arizona. Insurance companies could once again throw children with pre-existing conditions like asthma and diabetes off a family policy, or refuse to cover their illness.
And repealing the health-care law would threaten the lives of 2,748 in Arizona with serious health conditions like cancer who are getting lifesaving care today thanks to a program created by the law.
That's why I invite all Arizonians to go to healthcare.gov and see what repeal of ObamaCare would mean for you, your family, and your State!
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/2012/07/10/20120710sebelius0711-repealing-health-care-act-would-imperil-ariz-lives.html#ixzz20JZkHuP4