"The last thing Congress should do is repeal critical preventive services that millions of Americans are using today to get well and stay healthy."
Among other benefits the ACA has provided so far, Sebelius listed these:
- Approximately 1.35 million seniors have received an annual wellness visit without charge, unlike prior to the act when they often had to pay "significant co-pays and deductibles for preventive services. For example, a colon cancer screening could cost some seniors hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets" and force some to choose between getting preventive care or paying rent, buying groceries or prescription drugs, she said.
- In 2011, 32.5 million people covered by Medicare received one or more preventive benefits without being charged.
- While prior to the passage of the law, one in four Medicare beneficiaries went without a prescription each year because of cost, today, 3 million seniors and people with disabilities in the donut hole have saved "an average of $600 apiece on their prescription drugs," she said.
- New law enforcement tools have enabled prosecutors to recover "a record $4 billion" an effort she said will "add years to the Medicare trust fund and put the program on sounder footing."
- The law has made it easier for doctors to deliver high quality care resembling that provided in "the country's leading health systems," by creating accountable care and other continuum of care program models.
- Premiums in Medicare Advantage plans have fallen an average of 7% between 2011 and 2012, even though enrollment rose 10%. "When you add up all the savings in the law, the average Medicare beneficiary will save about $4,200 over the next nine years," with some seniors with higher drug costs saving closer to $16,000, she said.
Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.