Even as the Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama one year ago, faces a lack of funding or even repeal, administration officials are traveling, writing, using many means of communication telling about the positives of the program. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius co-authored an article for the McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
They wrote that for too long, rural Americans have been getting the short end of the health-care stick, with limited insurance options, fewer doctors and nurses, and higher out-of-pocket expenses. They say the health-care law is helping to change that by increasing payments to rural health-care providers, strengthening Medicare and training thousands of new primary care doctors to serve in rural areas.
The law is also providing new financial support for small businesses, which employ nearly two-thirds of rural Americans. The law offers many employers with fewer than 25 employees a tax credit of up to 35% of the cost of premiums if they provide workers with health insurance. And for rural Americans who pay more out-of-pocket for their medical care, the law is providing relief. Insurance companies are now limited in how much of your premiums can be spent on overhead like marketing and CEO salaries.
The National Farmers Union is observing the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. NFU President Roger Johnson says already rural Americans have come to realize many of the legislation's benefits. Rural citizens have higher rates of chronic diseases, hypertension, diabetes, strokes, arthritis, and many other conditions compared to urban Americans. Therefore, it is critical that they have access to affordable, quality health care.
Johnson says 25% of Americans live in rural areas while only 10% of physicians serve them. He says this law helps fix the imbalance of health care availability, providing incentives to physicians who live and work in rural areas.
Additional benefits of the Affordable Care Act include: free preventive care services and the ending of lifetime benefit caps for patients; and better access to affordable health care. Johnson encourages Congress to continuing funding, calling the program a good first step.