Former Times associate editor Gerard Matthews, now communications director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, fills in for Max this week with a guest column on the coming two-year anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law. The new protections that have gone into effect are having a marked impact on Arkansans' lives, he writes:
Children cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Young people can stay on their parents' health insurance plan until they are 26 years old. Preventive services, which will ultimately help control health care costs, have been added to some plans at no extra charge. Those are real changes — which can have a huge, positive impact on people's lives — that have nothing to do with petty attempts to pin a seemingly unpopular program to the president right before election time.
Take these things away, and folks are likely to notice. A lot of folks. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Affordable Care Act has had the following impact on Arkansans: 865,000 people who already had private insurance no longer have a lifetime limit on their health insurance plans; 439,000 people received added preventive services from their insurance companies without cost-sharing (that's including 110,000 children); 380,845 Medicare recipients have received preventive services; 23,837 young people have acquired health care coverage by staying on their parents' plans.
As part of his Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families gig, Matthews also put together the video interview above with a Clinton School student with a history of mental illness, who's able to attend the public service graduate program thanks to the Affordable Care Act stipulation that allows him to remain on his mother's health plan until he's 26.