Two Years Later: What the Affordable Care Act Has Done for California's Children
By Mike Odeh, Children Now, and Michele Stillwell-Parvensky, Children’s Defense Fund-California
As the Affordable Care Act (ACA) turns two this week, we should say happy birthday by celebrating the big wins the law has already delivered for California's children and families and the bright future ahead for children's health care.
At a time when many families are struggling in the midst of lingering economic woes and devastating budget cuts at the state and federal level, a birthday party for the ACA is a rare opportunity to say emphatically that millions of California kids are better off than they were two years ago because of the law.
If our ACA birthday party was filled with a balloon for each California child helped by the law, it would be a festive affair. Imagine more than 1.6 million balloons for the California children that now have access to additional preventive services that they didn’t have before and nearly 1.2 million balloons for those children that can now receive no-cost preventive services. Nearly 600,000 balloons for the California children with pre-existing conditions w are no longer at risk of being denied coverage and 350,000 balloons for the young adults with health coverage thanks to the ACA.
But even more striking than the statistics are the stories of the children and families who have much to celebrate at the ACA's birthday party. Tristan, a 4-year-old from Sacramento, has asthma and has previously been denied health coverage because he has a pre-existing condition. Almost two years ago, Tristan and his siblings were able to enroll in Healthy Families, a program that was protected and strengthened in the ACA. Or there’s Cameron, a young adult from Los Angeles with a bone marrow illness, who no longer has to worry about hitting lifetime limits and running out of coverage because of the ACA. As Cameron said, “If the lifetime limit had been in effect, I might not even be around.”
Because our kids are better off now than they were before, it would be a travesty to rollback these important ACA provisions. Any movement back to a world where kids are denied the health care they need because of a pre-existing condition or where young adults get kicked off their coverage because they celebrate a birthday, is a move in the wrong direction for California and the nation..
Share the birthday celebration with your friends and neighbors with a simple flyer about the top 5 ACA benefits for California children (available in English and Spanish).
Even though millions of California kids already have better and stronger health coverage because of the ACA, there are still hundreds of thousands of kids who still need to be enrolled in coverage. Parents can learn if their children qualify for free or low-cost health coverage in Medi-Cal or Healthy Families by calling 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669) or they can apply directly online at www.healtheapp.net or benefitscal.org.
Mike Odeh works with Children Now, a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization working to raise children's well-being to the top of the national policy agenda. Michele Stillwell-Parvensky is a Policy and Communications Associate in the Children’s Defense Fund’s Oakland office. She works primarily on children’s health policy to ensure every child has access to quality health care. Michele is also involved in the office’s emerging policy work on Boys and Men of Color.