Text SizePrint

From the Desk of the Secretary: The Affordable Care Act Is Working

Remarks by Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell "The Affordable Care Act is Working"On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to talk about the Affordable Care Act Exit Disclaimer at the Brookings Institution.

When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, it’s our belief that the three most important measures are affordability, access, and quality – and that when you consider the law through this lens, the evidence points to a clear conclusion: The Affordable Care Act is working – and families, businesses, and taxpayers are better off as a result.

Four years after President Obama signed the law, middle-class families have more security, and many of those who already had insurance now have better coverage. Fewer Americans are uninsured. At the same time, we’re spending our health care dollars more wisely, and we’re starting to receive higher quality care. 

As a country, we’ve been wrestling with the question of how to cover the uninsured for more than a century. By the time the Affordable Care Act was passed, tens of millions of Americans were uninsured, millions more had coverage that wasn’t there when they needed it, and everyone felt the effects.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, things are changing for the better: In just one year, we’ve reduced the number of uninsured adults by 26 percent. Said another way, 10.3 million fewer adults are uninsured today than in 2013.

This represents historic progress on an issue that has eluded our country for more than a century. There isn’t a business in America that wouldn’t be ecstatic with this kind of growth.

Those who already had insurance are better off too. If you think about a mom and dad sitting at their kitchen table, working out a family budget – it’s a big deal that they’re saving money and still getting better coverage and more financial security.

Meanwhile, millions of seniors are saving billions of dollars on their prescription drugs as we phase out the donut hole. More than 8.2 million seniors have saved more than $11.5 billion since 2010.

Ultimately, a healthier and more financially secure middle class is good for businesses, who benefit from a healthy workforce and consumers with more disposable income.

Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, there is evidence that we have bent the cost curve when it comes to health care. Across the board, we have now held down health care price inflation to the lowest rate in 50 years.

I also wanted to tell you about a couple of big announcements we made this week regarding the health care law.

First, in 2015 there will be a 25% increase in the total number of issuers selling health insurance plans in the Marketplace. More choice and competition is a great thing for consumers, and it has an effect on affordability, access, and quality alike.

Secondly, we announced that because of the Affordable Care Act, we project hospitals will save $5.7 billion in uncompensated care costs this year. Hospitals in states that have expanded Medicaid are projected to save up to $4.2 billion, and to receive about 72 percent of the total savings nationally.

Taken together, I believe the evidence points to a clear conclusion: The Affordable Care Act is working. My job as Secretary is to lead our efforts to make sure it continues to work and to work better.

We have a four part strategy for moving forward: improving access and affordability through the Marketplace; improving quality for patients and spending every dollar wisely; expanding access by expanding Medicaid; and helping consumers understand how to use their coverage – including the role of prevention and wellness.

Today marks the 50 day countdown to the beginning of Open Enrollment. Join the millions who’ve already gotten covered. Get more information at