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First Lady Michelle Obama held a conference call with nurses from across the country today to discuss the new Patient’s Bill of Rights and other important benefits from the Affordable Care Act. Joined by Dr. Mary Wakefield, Administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration, and six nurses from a cross-section of practices and hometowns, the First Lady emphasized what the new reforms mean for nurses and their patients.
Last week, we hit the six-month anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. That means that we’re starting to see more of the reforms take effect, including new protections and benefits in the Patient’s Bill of Rights.
So for example, insurance companies can no longer discriminate against kids because they have a preexisting condition. Patients can no longer be dropped by their insurance companies because they get sick. People suffering from a serious illness like breast cancer can focus on their treatment because they no longer have to worry about hitting their lifetime limit on coverage. And college kids and young adults just starting out on their own can now get coverage through their parents’ plan.
Now, all this means that individuals and families have more control over their health care. But here’s the important point: These reforms aren’t abstract theories that just make for good talking points. These are real changes that will benefit Americans all across the country.
Encouraging access to preventive care is an important part of the Affordable Care Act and the Let’s Move! initiative, which is focused on ending the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation. As the First Lady discussed, preventing illness helps cut health care costs and keeps families healthy.
And some of the biggest new changes and benefits are the reforms that deal with preventative care, because we all know, everyone on this call, that the best way to keep families healthy and cut health care costs is to keep people from getting sick in the first place.
And, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, that’s going to be easier because many preventative services are now covered at no out-of-pocket costs. Things like mammograms, cervical screenings, colonoscopies, childhood immunizations, prenatal and new baby care, high blood pressure treatment, all of these are included in new insurance plans with no deductable, no co-pay, no coinsurance, nothing. These steps are crucial because they can help combat preventable conditions that can have serious health consequences later in life.
Lastly, the First Lady recognized the significant impact nurses have had throughout the reform process and asked for their help in sharing information about the new law with their peers.
But in closing, just let me say this to all of you on this line. So many of you have played such an important role throughout this process. From the very beginning, it’s been nurses who have sat at the table sharing your ideas, sharing your concerns and your experiences. And as a result, all of you have helped to make this law even better. So I want to thank you for that. And we needed your help then and we need your help again to spread the word.