One Year Later

at 12:35 AM

After decades of fruitless advocacy, policy fights and political showdowns, we are finally changing the health care system to one that is more affordable, of higher quality and makes more plain sense.

One year after the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we should take a moment to marvel at what we have achieved. When it is all said and done, over 30 million previously uninsured people will get health insurance. Insurance plans will do what you paid them to do -- cover you when you get sick. They won't be allowed to abandon you when your medical problems cost too much or when you are diagnosed with an unexpected illness.

So how about today? Medicare recipients can get a free annual check up. Insurance companies can no longer discriminate against children with a preexisting condition. A co-worker once told me of the fear she had that her 23-year-old would get into an accident while uninsured. She prayed daily for his safety and so was tremendously relieved to learn that the new health law now allows children under 26 to join their parents' plan.

Because of the new law my health center will benefit enormously. In 2014, 5,000 of our uninsured patients will be able to get health insurance. Increased funding to community health centers will allow us to double the number of patients that can benefit from our quality services.

Now, vocal critics of the individual mandate to have insurance seem to continually stumble on the basic principles. In order for popular provisions like getting people with preexisting conditions covered, everyone must be in the boat. Everyone. A mix of healthy and sick policy holders is necessary to keep premiums affordable. These reforms couldn't have come sooner.

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In this unrelenting recession where people are losing their jobs and thus their health insurance, more families are in need of assistance. To quote one of my heroes, "Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane". Dr. King would be pleased with our country's new commitment to health, and would urge us to seize this momentum to improve the health of all communities.

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With a Perspective, I'm Dr. Ricky Choi.

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