By Former Congressman Henry Waxman
As we approach the ninth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I want to take a moment to reflect on the law’s successes, its resilience and the work that still needs to be done to realize the ACA’s promise.
Despite relentless Republican attacks and sabotage, the health care and security provided by the law still stand as one of our country’s proudest accomplishments. Thanks to the ACA, approximately 20 million previously uninsured Americans now have insurance coverage. While we have fought to protect this coverage expansion – the core of the law – we have been forced to delay the promise of many of its key components, components that we united around as a party nearly a decade ago: reducing disparities, improving prevention and public health, reducing costs, improving long-term care, and expanding mental health care.
These principles are especially important in light of the gaps that persist in our current health care system and the health challenges Americans face every day. Unfortunately, while the ACA reaches adolescence, these principles remain in infancy. As we debate the best way to achieve universal coverage, it is clear we must remember that the framework for progress remains and we must stay focused on achieving the ACA’s early promise of strengthening our entire health care system. Thus, the ACA’s birthday should prompt discussion on not only how to increase the number of Americans with coverage, but, more immediately, what substantive actions we can take now to bolster the rest of the health care system.