Ahead of Anniversary, Secretary Becerra and HHS Leaders Celebrate Twelve Years of the Affordable Care Act Advancing Health Equity for All Americans

HHS announces weeklong celebration March 21-25.

Today, Secretary Xavier Becerra and leaders across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the following statements celebrating the twelve-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was signed into law on March 23, 2010.  

Secretary Xavier Becerra: “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, today we are closer to making health care a right for all Americans – not for just the privileged few. This landmark law has been life-transforming and lifesaving for the American people, who now have access to quality health insurance, preventive care, reproductive and maternity care, Medicaid and Medicare services, low-cost prescription drugs, and mental health and substance use support, among many other essential health benefits. As a Member of Congress in 2010, I helped draft and pass the historic legislation. As the Attorney General of California, I defended the law before the Supreme Court. And now, as Secretary, I will continue to build on the success of the Affordable Care Act and advance our Administration’s key priorities of expanding health care access, reducing health care costs, closing health disparities, and strengthening behavioral health. We will keep delivering on President Joe Biden’s promise of making health care accessible and affordable for all Americans.”

Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine: “The Affordable Care Act has given Americans more freedom and control over their health care choices. The law recognizes and HHS understands the unique health needs of women across their lifespan by identifying preventive services and screenings to be used in clinical practice.”

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy: “Access to quality, affordable health care is vital to protecting the health of our nation. Twelve years ago, the Affordable Care Act expanded access to health care for millions of Americans, and through this landmark legislation, including Medicaid expansion, our country has made tremendous progress in closing the gaps in health disparities and access. There remains more work to be done, and I look forward to continuing to work to improve our health care system to ensure it reaches our most vulnerable communities.” 

Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Acting Assistant Secretary Jennifer Cannistra: “In the 12 years since its passage, the Affordable Care Act has helped millions of children and families improve their health and well-being. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has implemented several innovative programs created by the ACA and witnessed their transformative impact on the children and families we serve. Through the Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (TMIECHV), ACF has awarded 48 grants totaling $128.5 million for home visiting services for pregnant women and parents with young children in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. The ACA also created the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG), a unique training and employment program that has enrolled almost 80,000 low-income individuals from historically underserved and marginalized communities in high-demand health care training programs. Through these ACF programs, as well as in countless other ways, the Affordable Care Act has helped advance ACF’s mission to promote the well-being of children, families, and communities and build a strong foundation for the next generation.”

Administration for Community Living (ACL) Acting Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administrator Alison Barkoff: “In addition to significantly advancing health equity for people with disabilities and older adults, the ACA represents a significant leap forward in protecting their civil rights. By eliminating discrimination for preexisting conditions and lifetime caps on essential benefits, expanding options for home and community-based services, and making it easier to connect to local services and supports, the ACA has given more older adults and people with disabilities the opportunity to the lives they want, in their own communities. We are committed to building on that foundation to make community living possible — and equal opportunity a reality — for all people, regardless of age or disability.”

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Director Robert “Bob” Valdez, Ph.D., M.H.S.A.: “Twelve years ago, the Affordable Care Act expanded access to healthcare for Americans who have never had health coverage. The expansion of Medicaid and access to affordable health insurance coverage has allowed our nation to close major health disparities through increased access to high-quality, affordable care. In addition, eliminating discrimination due to preexisting conditions and ensuring better support services and healthcare for people suffering from multiple chronic diseases or those with disabilities has improved the health of individuals, communities, and the country. AHRQ will continue to build on these advances by ensuring that all Americans receive safe, high-quality care, including everyone with access to the affordable healthcare coverage and services that the ACA provides.”

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure: “The Affordable Care Act revolutionized health care in America and continues to be a lifeline for millions of people. Whether you gained health insurance coverage or benefits through Medicaid or the Marketplaces, have lower out of pocket drug costs thanks to the closing of the Medicare Part D donut hole, or are able to access guaranteed medical services at no out of pocket cost because of the ACA, we have much to celebrate. We will continue to build on these achievements to ensure that everyone can access comprehensive, affordable health care coverage.”

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D.: “The ACA has provided important opportunities for the FDA to improve the health of all Americans, including the establishment of an FDA office that continues to work to address health disparities. Among other things, this landmark law also advanced a requirement for nutrition information on certain restaurants’ menus, which empowers consumers to make healthier choices and encourages healthier offerings that could reduce incidence of diet-related chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, and increase health gains in underserved populations.”

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Carole Johnson: “The Affordable Care Act led to a sea change for HRSA and those we serve by dramatically expanding our ability to provide equitable access to high-quality health care to children and families, people with low incomes, rural communities, and more. Over the past 12 years, HRSA has expanded the health center program to more than 14,000 service delivery sites, tripled the number scholarships and loan repayment awards for clinicians working in underserved areas, and provided millions of voluntary home visits for families with young children thanks to this transformational law.”

Indian Health Service (IHS) Acting Director Elizabeth Fowler: “The Affordable Care Act has benefitted American Indian and Alaska Native communities by improving access to care for tribal citizens both within the Indian health system and from other health providers. The ACA has also allowed IHS to increase revenue collections that are used to provide additional services and greater capacity in Native communities. In short, the Affordable Care Act works in Indian Country.”

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Acting Director Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D: “Science could not be clearer that increased access to healthcare is directly related to better health outcomes. As we mark the 12th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, it is undeniable that socioeconomic disparities in health care access have narrowed significantly under the ACA.”

Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Director Lisa J. Pino: “On this 12th Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, we recognize Section 1557, which guarantees equitable health care for Americans with some of the greatest needs, including those with limited English proficiency language and/or disabilities. Section 1557 also protects people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. OCR’s mission is to ensure that all people are able to access the health care they need, free from discrimination and barriers.”

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Leader, and Mental Health and Substance Use Assistant Secretary Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D: “All Americans have the right to affordable, effective healthcare coverage that is inclusive of mental health needs as well as services for those coping with substance use disorder. The Affordable Care Act has helped millions of people who would otherwise have been uninsured get the help they need.”

Since its enactment on March 23, 2010, the ACA has led to an historic advancement of health equity in the United States. This landmark law improved the health of all Americans, including women and families, kids, older adults, people with disabilities, LGBTQI+ and communities of color. Thanks to the ACA, millions of Americans have gained health coverage without lifetime limits, and protections are in place for people with preexisting conditions. People have access to essential health benefits, including preventive and rehabilitative care, prescription drugs, wellness visits and contraceptives, and mental health and substance use treatment, among many others. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to building on the success of the ACA and making health care a right for all Americans. 

HHS will be holding a weeklong celebration to highlight the benefits of the ACA from March 21 through March 25, 2022. The theme of this weeklong celebration is: “ACA: 12 Years of Advancing Health Equity for All Americans.” 

Each day, the Department will highlight ways in which the ACA has made gains in addressing health disparities: 

  • 3/21: Celebrating Health of Women and Families 
  • 3/22: Celebrating Health of Older Adults and People with Disabilities 
  • 3/23: Celebrating Coverage Gains & Patient Protections  
  • 3/24: Celebrating Mental Health and Substance Use Support  
  • 3/25: Celebrating Health of LGBTQI+ and Communities of Color 

In addition, HHS is releasing the Affordable Care Act Briefing Book, which features key findings from two dozen reports published by the Biden-Harris Administration from 2021 to the present. Most of the reports were published by HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary and Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), working in collaboration with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS is primarily responsible for the implementation of many of the ACA’s provisions, and releases regular Medicaid and Marketplace enrollment reports. The Briefing Book also includes a report by the White House Council of Economic Advisors.

See the full Affordable Care Act Briefing Book.

Read the Fact Sheet: Celebrating the Affordable Care Act.

Visit the webpage for the ACA Anniversary Celebration Week.

Originally published at https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2022/03/18/ahead-of-anniversary-secretary-becerra-hhs-leaders-celebrate-twelve-years-affordable-care-act-advancing-health-equity-for-all-americans.html

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