By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
For the first time since he left office on January 20, 2017, former President Barack Obama plans a triumphant return to the White House to promote and recognize the 12th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
The occasion marks Obama’s first appearance in Washington since the inauguration of his former Vice President, Joe Biden.
The nation’s first Black president will join Biden and the country’s first African American vice president, Kamala Harris, at the event to deliver remarks.
White House officials said all three would discuss expanding health care benefits and efforts to reduce costs.
“Joe Biden, we did this together,” Obama stated in a video released last year by the White House about the Affordable Care Act.
“We always talked about how, if we could get the principle of universal coverage established, we could then build on it,” Obama said.
On March 23, 2010, Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, which most call Obamacare.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data revealed that at the time Obama signed the law, about 50 million Americans were without health insurance.
In its most recent statistics, the Department of Health and Human Services revealed that a record 31 million Americans have health coverage through Obamacare.
The 2021 report revealed drastic reductions in uninsurance rates in every state since the law’s coverage expansions took effect.
“People served by the health Marketplaces and Medicaid expansion have reached record highs,” health officials noted.
They said the data shows those individuals currently enrolled in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces and Medicaid expansion under the ACA include 11.3 million people enrolled in the ACA Marketplace plans as of February 2021.
The information revealed that 14.8 million newly eligible people enrolled in Medicaid through the ACA’s expansion of eligibility to adults as of December 2020.
Additionally, 1 million are enrolled in the ACA’s Basic Health Program. Nearly 4 million previously-eligible adult Medicaid enrollees gained coverage under expansion due to the ACA’s enhanced outreach, streamlined applications, and increased federal funding under the ACA.
According to health officials, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have experienced reductions in their uninsured rates since the implementation of the ACA, with states that expanded Medicaid experiencing the most significant decrease in their uninsured rate.
For example, California, Kentucky, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and West Virginia have reduced their uninsured rate by at least half from 2013 to 2019 through enrollment in Marketplace coverage and expansion of Medicaid to adult populations.
Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid to cover adults under the ACA.
“The Affordable Care Act has not only led to enhanced insurance coverage and dramatically reduced uninsured rates – but it’s lowered barriers to care, reduced people’s medical debt burdens, reduced out-of-pocket spending for a lot of people who had pre-existing conditions prior to the Affordable Care Act’s reforms,” Dr. Sara Collins of the Commonwealth Fund, testified this month during a House Oversight Reform Committee.
“So, this has been a substantial change – both for coverage rates and improving people’s financial security,” Collins stated.