The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is one of the most critically important pieces of legislation for Hispanics ever crafted.
Make no mistake, this landmark legislation will improve the lives of all Americans. But no community stands to gain more than Hispanics. Currently millions of Hispanics in the United States lack health care. The ACA makes 9 million Hispanics eligible for coverage they currently lack. Millions of Hispanic seniors are now paying less for prescription drugs and lifetime caps on coverage are a thing of the past. No one who is eligible can be denied medical insurance.
This is especially important for a baby boy named Houston Tracy from Crowley, Texas. Houston was born with a heart defect just days before the passage of the Affordable Care Act and was deemed uninsurable from birth because he was deemed to have a preexisting condition at the moment he was born. His case drew national attention, and eventually his private insurance company backed down under pressure. Today, under the Affordable Care Act, no child will suffer the indignity baby Houston met. Insurers can't deny children coverage over a medical need. It also means Houston will grow up never having to to worry about going broke if he needs constant care, because the ACA removes lifetime limits on healthcare coverage for everyone.
Who could possibly want to deny people like Houston the ability to live without worrying about going into debt because of his health care needs? Who would want to stand in the way of helping so many people gain health care coverage? The GOP that's who, sadly my friends across the aisle have been consumed with defunding the ACA. Which is a real shame; it's not just Hispanics who benefit from the ACA. It's the American middle class, which happens to include a large number of Hispanics. It appears the GOP isn't so concerned with the middle class or Hispanics these days.
Let's be clear, the ACA is already helping our country. For some reason Republicans are fighting to stop insurance companies from providing billions of dollars in refunds to all Americans on their health insurance plans. The GOP wants to stop Senior citizens from receiving 50 percent discounts on brand name medications. And they want to deny those with pre-existing conditions health insurance.
But then this law is about more than just improving the health care of all Americans, it is about personal responsibility. This law asks everyone to take responsibility for their health care and improving our health care system. By giving more Hispanics access to health coverage, we are lowering medical costs for everyone. Remember, for the 85 percent of Americans who already have health insurance, the only changes they will see under the law are new benefits, better protections from insurance company abuses, and more value for every dollar they spend on health care. If they like their plan they can keep it, they do not have to change a thing due to the health care law.
As the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, I can assure you that this legislation benefits our country, expands health care coverage and overwhelmingly helps Hispanics and all Americans and this is why I am in support of the ACA. This health care law is in keeping with a greater America, one in which more of our people are insured. Today, we see the implementation of this historic new health care act that will secure the quality and accessibility of health care as a right, not a privilege for every American. Not since the New Deal and the Great Society have we seen a law that will help so many people. Millions of Americans will be able to enter into open enrollment on October 1, 2013 in order to get health insurance coverage.
This is a truly historic moment, let us embrace it together.
Ruben Hinojosa is a Democrat who represents Texas's 15th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is also chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.