THE CARE PACKAGE: The Affordable Care Act celebrates its 2nd anniversary

March 23, 2012

Nicole's Notes

Happy Anniversary to the Affordable Care Act! Friday, March 23 marks two years since President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act landmark legislation, but we’ve been celebrating all week.

This week, the White House honored Health Access Coalition Director Adam Searing and nine other Champions of Change for their dedication to improving access to health care and helping community members understand and take advantage of the benefits of the health care law. Read more here.

Adam Linker helped decode the challenges to the Affordable Care Act at a League of Women Voters’ event in Greensboro, and I spoke to a group at the Eastern Wake Senior Center in Wendell about how the Act has already benefitted seniors.

Here is a sampling of how the health care law has already made a difference for North Carolina’s older adults:

  • Prescription drugs are more affordable for Medicare Part D beneficiaries. Over 114,000 people who fell into the donut hole coverage gap – where they paid the full cost of their prescription drugs – received a $250 rebate in 2010. In 2011, over 108,000 received a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs. This discount resulted in an average savings of $600 per person, and a total savings of over $65 million in North Carolina. By 2020, the donut hole will permanently close.
  • Medicare is spending money on prevention. In 2011, over 1.1 million people with Medicare received free preventive services or a free annual wellness visit with their medical provider.
  • Lifetime caps on health benefits are banned. The ban on imposing lifetime caps is greatly beneficial to individuals who have suffered a traumatic injury or those living with chronic illnesses or diseases that were getting close to their lifetime caps. Now they can focus on getting better instead of worrying about lifetime limits. Already, nearly 3.1 million residents have benefited from this provision. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014.

Also, you may not realize that North Carolina has already received more than $135.8 million from the Affordable Care Act. Here are a few ways the money was spent to improve the health care of older adults:

  • $1.3 million for the Personal and Home Care Aide State Training Program, which will help train key health care assistants and strengthen the direct care workforce.
  • $2.3 million to help North Carolina reduce health care fraud by identifying efficient and effective procedures for long-term care facilities to conduct background checks on prospective employees, thereby protecting its residents.
  • $1 million to support outreach to eligible Medicare beneficiaries about their benefits.
  • $523,000 to support Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs). ADRCs help seniors, people living with disabilities, and their families understand and evaluate their long-term care options, including those available in their community.

To learn more about the Campaign for Better Care and the effect of the Affordable Care Act on seniors’ health watch my interview with Angella Hampton on WTVD.

Calendar

NC CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER CARE: Luncheon for older adults, caregivers in Greensboro

Join the NC Justice Center and AARP NC on Tuesday, April 17 for the next Campaign for Better Care community luncheon and make your voice heard on one of the most important, complex issues in North Carolina today.

The Campaign for Better Care aims to make improvements in the health system for older adults and build a strong, lasting consumer voice for better health care. Come and share your experiences and ideas about what you think needs to be changed in our health system. Plus, take advantage of the expertise offered from the AARP, the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) and other organizations.

The free event will be held from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at the Beloved Community Center, 417 Arlington Street, Greensboro, NC 27406. To reserve your seat, contact the Beloved Community Center at (336) 230-0001 or Nicole Dozier at nicole@ncjustice.org or (919) 856-2146. Click here for a printable flier.

If you are interested in hosting a NC Campaign for Better Care event, contact me at 919-856-2146 or nicole@ncjustice.org.

Keeping You Posted

"Reviewing the health reform law," by Adam Searing
Published March 8, 2012, Raleigh News & Observer

This is a big month for the national health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. March 22 marks the second-year anniversary of the law's passage, and on March 26 to 28 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in cases challenging the law.

What does all this mean for North Carolina? First, the anniversary is an opportunity for more public education about the benefits of the law for families. Thousands of children under age 26 in the state are able to stay on their parents' health plans and maintain coverage. North Carolina's federal health insurance high risk pool (www.nchirp.org), created by the law, has meant that many people can get more affordable health coverage despite having had the bad luck to have had cancer, back problems or another serious medical condition. Seniors and people with disabilities are getting cheaper drugs and improved preventive health care benefits under Medicare every day.

And in 2013 people who don't get their health insurance through their work will enjoy the same affordable deals and protections against pre-existing condition charges and exclusions as everyone else.

Ironically, around the time of the anniversary come the legal arguments on challenges to the law in the Supreme Court. While multiple courts –including by leading conservative judges – have upheld the health care law these cases have some potentially serious consequences.

Read more...

Resources

Eldercare Locator
www.eldercare.gov
Phone: (800)677-1116
Provides information on local aging service providers

Inclusive Health
www.inclusivehealth.org
Phone: (866)665-2117
Provides more affordable health insurance to individuals living with serious, chronic pre‐existing health conditions

We have created extensive lists for the resources available in various communities in North Carolina. So far, we have lists for the following:

Stay tuned for resources lists for more communities throughout the year.

First Person

We are hopeful that together we can build a strong and lasting consumer voice for better care. Please see this short video of Geraldine Alshamy. If you would like to share your story please contact Nicole Dozier at nicole@ncjustice.org

Watch here.

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