Less than two weeks into the legislative session the House spent over two hours debating a political and partisan resolution that would create a constitutional convention in order to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It's no secret that the health care reform law was controversial from day one, but now that's it's been in effect for nearly two years, we have proof that it's already helping thousands of Coloradans get access to affordable and quality care.
An estimated 21,800 young adults in Colorado will gain coverage this year, and 291,000 children in Colorado with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition, such as asthma. And as more reforms begin to take effect, such as the Health Benefit Exchange in 2014 (think of it as a marketplace for individuals and businesses to shop for the best deal), we'll see even greater numbers of Coloradans benefitting from health care reform. Yet those who are intent on rolling back health care reforms continue to use misleading or flat-out false statements to make their point. It's time to set the record straight: The Affordable Care Act is working.
During the debate I heard from opponents that the Affordable Care Act is killing jobs and hurting small business. Here's the truth: Repealing the Affordable Care Act would be devastating to our small businesses. There are four million eligible small businesses nationwide that would lose $ 4 billion per year in healthcare tax credits that started in 2010 if the Affordable Care Act were repealed. Since small businesses create 70% of new jobs, lower overall insurance costs mean that small businesses will be able to create these jobs more efficiently. Additionally, according to a Colorado Trust study from last year, Colorado can expect to create 19,000 health care jobs by 2019 because of health care reform. These are jobs that wouldn't be created without health care reform.
Another common misconception is that health reform will increase the cost of health care for Colorado families. In reality, more Coloradans will be able to get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, which reduces overall medical costs. MIT Economics professor Jonathon Gruber has estimated that Colorado households will have $790 more in their pockets on average because premiums are expected to lower. This is welcome news to many Colorado families who, in these tough economic times, have had to decide whether they can keep up with rising health care costs.
Health reforms will also save Coloradans money because of new rules that require insurance companies to have any potential rate increases reviewed and made public. This new, transparent process has already led many states to reject rate increases and in some cases return money to consumers because they had been overpaying. In Colorado, the Division of Insurance recovered more than $11.7 million for consumers. Before the Affordable Care Act, consumers were subject to regular and unjustified rate increases.
Opponents also like to say that health reform has little to do with protecting patients. This couldn't be further from the truth. The Affordable Care Act created a patient's bill of rights that protects patients in an enormously significant way. Thanks to reforms, insurance companies cannot discriminate based on gender, drop coverage when patients become sick, put lifetime limits on your coverage or deny you coverage for pre-existing conditions. These changes to our health care system are already saving people's lives.
The people of Colorado deserve access to quality and affordable health care, and the Affordable Care Act is making it a reality.