Change we can believe in

CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN…. Six months ago today, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. The milestone is significant for entirely substantive reasons — effective today, many Americans who’ve been waiting for some relief will finally get some.

The New York Times‘ Kevin Sack noted that a number of the new law’s “most central consumer protections take effect” this very day, and the list includes some very popular reforms. Starting today, for example, insurers won’t be able to exclude children from coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Rescission, which led to many Americans losing their coverage when they needed it most, is forbidden. Young people can now stay on their parents’ plan until age 26. Preventive care — including colonoscopies, mammograms, and immunizations — must now be covered without co-payments.

Republicans intend to take all of this away, of course, and will fight tooth and nail next year if voters reward them with a majority.

But in the meantime, the Affordable Care Act has begun making life better for some struggling Americans who need a break.

Joe and Mary Thompson had agreed to adopt Emily before her birth in 1999, and it never occurred to them to back out when she was born with spina bifida. But that same year, their residential remodeling business in Overland Park, Kan., went under, prompting job changes that left the family searching for health coverage with a child who was uninsurable.

The insurers were willing to cover the Thompsons and their older daughter, but not Emily, who was later discovered to have mild autism as well, or her 13-year-old brother, who had a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder.

Starting Thursday, the insurers will not be able to do that, as the new health care law prohibits them from denying coverage to children under 19 because of pre-existing health conditions. In 2014, the change will extend to people of all ages.

I realize the new law is still confusing to many Americans. That uncertainty makes it easier for demagogues to attack and for the public to believe them — much of the country just doesn’t know what’s in the Affordable Care Act, so they’re not in a position to approve of provisions that they’d really like.

To that end, I thought I’d include this video from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan research organization, which does a fine job explaining the new law. If you have nine minutes, I highly recommend watching it.

Update: Also, the White House has a newly-revamped site devoted to the new health care law. It’s worth checking out (and be sure to watch the video at the top of the page.)