Affordable Care Act

Danville resident Amanda Reeves (right) speaks up in support of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion while Piedmont Access to Health Services CEO Kay Crane looks on. Local patients and care providers spoke Monday in support of the law on the fifth anniversary of the bill’s signing. 

Danville doctors, nurses, residents and others affected by the Affordable Care Act spoke up about their continued support of the law on Monday — the fifth anniversary of the signing of the historic health care bill.

“I came to tell you something from my heart,” said Danville resident Amanda Reeves. “We need to get together as a community to help each other get the help that we each need. I can only say my story. I can’t speak for everybody else, but I know there’s more out there.”

The event, hosted by the local Piedmont Access to Health Services office, brought together many who had benefited by the legislation and those providing health care to the Dan River Region. PATHS CEO Kay Crane said the law was helping drive down costs and insure millions, despite efforts to repeal parts or all of the legislation.

“Which, in this economy, is a really positive thing,” she added.

On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law. For the first time in American history, most citizens were granted access to health care through either Medicaid or a private marketplace at a cost of about $759 billion from 2014 through 2019. However, the Congressional Budget Office still predicts the law will result in reducing deficits.

Randy Lavinder, with the Lavinder Group and Associates insurance agency, said he had seen firsthand the effects of the law on hundreds of local patients. Some went from paying as much as $1,800 for two people to about $500.

“I can go on and on,” he said.

The law has been through a notable change since 2010. In 2012, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the legality of the law. While most of the law survives, the court struck down language forcing states to expand the federal Medicaid program by withholding current funding. The ruling made expansion optional and partly led to a 2014 budget battle in the Virginia General Assembly.

The battle also has divided local care providers and local lawmakers, with many health leaders firmly in support of expansion. Crane said the move could give coverage to as many as 5,000 local patients at PATHS.

Reeves said expansion also was vital to keeping her healthy for her sons and husband.

“My children right here in front are the reasons that I need to be healthy,” she said. “I need to be able to raise them to be gentlemen and raise them to be good citizens. It’s so exciting to see so many people out here today that are in support of helping each other.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard another challenge to the law. Plaintiffs are arguing that the law illegally provided subsidies to residents of states that did not set up health insurance exchanges.

If repealed, the decision could eliminate insurance for about 384,000 Virginians. Federal officials said there is currently no way for the government to prevent changes to the law if the Supreme Court decides against it.

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Metcalfe reports for the Danville Register & Bee.

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