Affordable Care Act Spurs Largest Health Coverage Expansion in 50 Years

seiu-org-logoThe Affordable Care Act has spurred the largest expansion in health coverage in 50 years. Over 9.5 million uninsured now have insurance!

A key component to the ACA’s success was the education and outreach campaign conducted by SEIU nurses, doctors, child care providers and security officers nationwide. Members reached more than 2.4 million people over the course of the first open enrollment period through enrollment events, phone calls, door knocking and through online outreach.


“People are calling back and saying, ‘I love you!’?” Efia Joseph, a 35-year-old home care worker in Fairfield, Conn., told The Washington Post.


All of these efforts, combined, are making a life-changing difference in American’s lives:

  • ACA2.jpgKristen Boe of Estherville, Iowa, a stay-at-home mother in her 20s who has benefited from being able to stay on her father’s plan until age 26 then get a marketplace plan after going for two years without insurance and without needed thyroid tests.
  • Sheri Hendrix of Grants Pass, Ore., got coverage under the Affordable Care Act after going without it for four years and that saved her from having to cover $30,000 in medical bills from a broken ankle after a fall.
  • ACA3.jpgJamal Lee of Baltimore, a small business owner who, before getting insured through the Affordable Care Act, traveled to another country to save costs on medical procedures.

SEIU nurses, doctors, child care providers and security officers are also celebrating that this is the year many of the healthcare laws widespread insurance protections — such as the end of denials for pre-existing conditions for adults — kicked in for our family, friends and neighbors.

We all benefit when insurance companies can no longer: deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions; charge women whatever they want, whenever they want to; and cut off coverage when people are in the middle of costly treatments.

Moving Forward:

Since Congress passed and President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law just over four years ago, SEIU has played a significant role in bringing good healthcare coverage to not only the 7 million people who have signed up through marketplaces, but also to the millions of young adults up to age 26 on their parents plans, and millions more low-income working people receiving coverage through Medicaid.


SEIU’s partnership work together with the Latino Engagement Fund, the Black Civic Engagement Fund and Out2Enroll has resulted in coordinated outreach efforts by 28 organizations in 17 key counties of four states (TX, FL, PA, MI) where the highest numbers of uninsured people live.

Since passage of the Affordable Care Act, extremist Republicans have spent hundreds of millions of dollars attacking the healthcare law – and refusing its expanded Medicaid coverage to 5 million people — instead of helping their own uninsured constituents find ways to get coverage. They wasted time and energy voting over 50 times to repeal, gut or dismantle the law at the expense of priorities crucial to working people: proposals to help the long-term unemployed, raise the minimum wage and pass commonsense immigration reform.

Polling consistently shows that most Americans reject the GOP’s obsession with plans to repeal the healthcare law and go back to the days when insurance companies called all the shots. A recent Bloomberg poll found that 64 percent of Americans either support the law as it is or back it with small changes.

SEIU members, like most Americans, know the healthcare law isn’t perfect and we want a few things about it to be improved. But we’ll oppose every effort to turn the clock back on people with pre-existing conditions and people who are getting preventive care coverage – such as birth control and mammograms – for the first time in their lives.

That’s the choice many voters will have in November: between candidates who would take us back to the days when insurance companies could cancel your coverage on a whim and candidates who will make sure that a law that is working for millions of Americans will work even better for us.

Republicans at many levels are running to repeal the law. But this year is much different – for the first time they are running to take away benefits that virtually every American who has health care is benefiting from.

“I wasn’t really political” before starting work on enrollment, SEIU member Dee Lila Peterson, told The Washington Post. A certified nursing assistant at a Doylestown, Penn., nursing home, Peterson plans to encourage Democrats to vote in November.

SEIU members know this is the year for all of us to instead deliver on the promise of the Affordable Care Act, make sure it is working for as many people as possible and expand the landmark protections it provides.

This article was originally printed on SEIU on April 2, 2014.  Reprinted with permission.

Author: Diane Minor

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.