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Happy Anniversary to the Affordable Care Act.

Two people sitting at a coffee shop, one is in a wheelchair.

On March 23rd, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into Law. The Affordable Care Act is the largest expansion of the Medicaid and Medicare programs since they were enacted in 1965 and improved the health of all Americans, including women and families, kids, older adults, people with disabilities, LGBTQI+ and communities of color. To this day, the ACA remains one of the most monumental accomplishments in making health care more affordable and accessible for everyone.

The Impact of the Affordable Care Act

When the ACA first passed, one out of every six Americans did not have health insurance coverage. Now, thanks to our progressive leaders who shepherded the ACA into law, as of 2022 over ninety percent of Americans have health insurance. 

The health insurance coverage provided by the ACA is a lifesaver. One study found that in just a three year period the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid saved over 19 thousand lives.

In 2024, coverage under the Affordable Care Act hit record numbers, with 21.3 million people signing up for insurance coverage through the marketplace, and that doesn’t even include all of the people who get their coverage through Medicaid and Medicare. This is an increase of almost 5 million people from last year.

The Affordable Care Act in Minnesota

Minnesota was one of the original adopters of the program for Medicaid expansion, implementing it as soon as it was available on January 1st, 2014. In just the first year in Minnesota, half of the previously uninsured, almost 200 thousand people, received coverage.

In 2023 Minnesota also hit record enrollment in our state marketplace with over 100 thousand people signing up for insurance, which is an 11% increase from the year before. 

Not to mention, progressives in the Minnesota Legislature passed a state public option to begin in 2027 to further expand access to affordable health care options for all Minnesotans.

Ties to Minnesota’s Progressive History

One critical aspect of the ACA is that it expands on the work of The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA), partly named after our beloved Minnesota Senator, Paul Wellstone to honor his legacy.

Senator Wellstone was a fierce advocate for mental health coverage during his career and helped to pass The Mental Health Parity Act of 1996. The MHPAEA ensured that mental health and addiction treatments were covered on par with other medical needs.

The ACA expanded on our progressive legacy and required insurance plans to cover mental health and addiction treatments as an essential health benefit.

Protecting the Affordable Care Act 

Just this week, conservatives released their plan to gut the Affordable Care Act by getting rid of measures that protect health coverage in the bill. To make matters worse, conservatives in the house have also announced a plan to significantly cut funding for Medicaid. Former president Donald Trump and conservatives in Congress tried to fully repeal the ACA in 2017. That effort failed, but Trump has promised to “terminate” the ACA if he is re-elected to a second term.

But that’s not the only reason conservatives want to rollback the Affordable Care Act. The ACA also requires insurance companies to cover birth control without any out-of-pocket costs to the individual, regardless of how or where they are insured. With reproductive freedom, abortion and contraception being attacked by conservatives around the country, it’s more important than ever that we protect the ACA.

If conservatives get their way and repeal the ACA we would lose protections for pre-existing conditions, mental health care, free preventative care, birth control, access to Medicaid, and so much more. The Affordable Care Act saves lives and we want to make sure it is protected for years to come.

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