Associations welcome passage of health care bill
As President Obama signed the Patient Protection & Affordability Care Act (PPACA) into law, the Washington-based National Association of Counties (NACo) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) have released statements applauding the passage of the bill. Along with expanding health insurance coverage to more than 30 million people, the two associations say specific parts of the bill will benefit cities and counties particularly.
On Sunday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill, which the Senate had passed in December, and on Tuesday President Obama signed it into law. "NACo supports universal health insurance coverage," said NACo President Valerie Brown in her statement. "This legislation goes a long way toward achieving this goal without imposing undue burdens on counties."
The legislation includes investments in public health infrastructure and workforce to help move the nation's health system from "sick care" to one that is built around wellness and health promotion, said the NACo statement. NACo also supports the provisions aimed at increasing health insurance coverage and access to primary care, and has long supported the expansion of Medicaid provided there is no cost-shifting to counties. Specifically, NACo is pleased with the provision in section 10201(c)(6) of the legislation that prohibits states from requiring counties to contribute a higher percentage of the non-federal share of Medicaid than they did in 2009.
Other aspects of the bill endorsed in NACo's statement include the investments in the National Health Service Corps, which helps place health care professionals in medically underserved and rural areas, and the suspension/termination of all federal health benefits to convicted and incarcerated criminals with incomes between 133 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. USCM CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran commended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and President Obama on the bill's passage. "[PPACA] guarantees Americans affordable healthcare by expanding coverage for 32 million people while protecting our nation's fiscal integrity by reducing the federal deficit by $138 billion in the first 10 years and approximately $1.2 trillion in the following decade," Cochran said. "The legislation includes improved tax incentives so that health care is more affordable for middle and moderate-income families; eliminates the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap for seniors and people with disabilities; and increases Medicaid payments to physicians and states. Not since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid has this nation witnessed the enactment of such broad health legislation that protects so many in our cities and communities. The nation's mayors look forward to working with the Administration to implement the provisions of this historic healthcare reform legislation."