Kathy Sgambati - Affordable Care Act making a big difference for N.H. families

  • Published in Columns

Around the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court arguments, it is important to understand exactly what this landmark legislation means for Granite State families.

During my 26 years at New Hampshire’s Health and Human Services Department, I saw too many families struggle to afford health insurance or face medical bankruptcy when their health insurance had run out when they needed it most.   But with the health care reform law in place, ...

Around the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court arguments, it is important to understand exactly what this landmark legislation means for Granite State families.

During my 26 years at New Hampshire’s Health and Human Services Department, I saw too many families struggle to afford health insurance or face medical bankruptcy when their health insurance had run out when they needed it most.   But with the health care reform law in place, working families finally have the security of knowing they won’t lose their health care or be forced into bankruptcy if they get sick or lose their job. 

Hundreds of thousands of New Hampshire citizens continue to see new benefits from the health care reform law. Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that 545,000 New Hampshire residents will benefit from the Affordable Care Act’s prohibition on lifetime limits on health benefits.  No longer will they be forced to worry about going without treatment for cancer or other chronic long-term diseases because of a lifetime restriction on care. 

Lifetime limits were extremely common.  Just two years ago, 60-percent of employer-sponsored plans and 89-percent of individually purchased coverage would put a financial limit on the care you could receive, but with the Affordable Care Act in place, never again will New Hampshire residents be denied health care coverage because of a lifetime dollar limit imposed by an insurance company. 

Now, 8,300 young Granite State adults can stay on their parents’ health insurance until they are 26 years old. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act closing the prescription drug donut hole, Granite State seniors saved more than $8 million on their prescriptions this past year. 23,000 Granite State small businesses are now eligible for a tax cut to provide health insurance for their employees. These are real results with real benefits for families within our community.

Unfortunately the real benefits the Affordable Care Act has delivered for the working families isn’t moving Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Kelly Ayotte, Frank Guinta, or Charlie Bass.  They put their own partisan ideology before the best interests of New Hampshire citizens as they call for repeal of the common sense measures in the Affordable Care Act. They would repeal healthcare for young adults, repeal health care benefits for those with chronic conditions and repeal affordability of prescription drugs for our seniors.

A return to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your health policy, deny you coverage, or charge women more than men simply because of their gender, isn’t an option we can afford.

President Obama has delivered on healthcare, as promised during the 2008 campaign.  Those who characterize it as government run are wrong. The government’s role is one of assurance of the uninsured and protecting choice for those of us who are fortunate enough to be insured. And for the insured person who might lose a job or suffer a significant injury or illness, a matter that may not concern them today, the Affordable Care Act will be their lifeline to their financial and personal well being.

We must protect the progress we have made and that, in human terms, is what the coming election will be about.

(Democrat Kathy Sgambati of Tilton formerly represented District 4 in the N.H. Senate. She is also a former deputy commissioner of the N.H. Department of Health & Human Services.)