Family GlitchAs we mark the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) two-year anniversary, families across the nation are grateful because they know firsthand that their children are safer, better protected and healthier because of health care reform. While people on all sides of the political spectrum continue to weigh in, after two years the real experiences of real families make it clear that children and families are better off now, and will be for many years to come, because of the ACA’s long list of new child-focused policies. The ACA’s benefits for children are simply indisputable.

Because of the ACA, no family can be denied coverage for their child because he or she has a pre-existing condition. Parents of children with cancer, children born with a birth defect, children with asthma, and special-needs kids, among others, can now get coverage for their kids because of the ACA. Ending the pernicious practice of denying coverage for our nation’s sickest and most vulnerable kids is a major step forward.

Insurers are banned from setting lifetime caps on coverage or benefits, so if a child beats leukemia when she is age 8, she will still be able to get the care she need if she faces another serious illness later in life. These provisions are nothing short of lifesaving for sick and disabled children.

Families don’t face any out-of-pocket costs when it comes to well-child screenings, immunizations, or any other preventive services that keep kids healthy and prevents the need for more costly and invasive care down the road. It is estimated that 14.1 million kids (ages 0-17) already are benefiting from this no-cost access to essential preventive care.

Beginning in 2014, insurers will be required to provide vision care services so children who need glasses can get them. Dental care also will be a required benefit for all children. Never again will a child lose a permanent tooth because it costs less to pull it than to fix a cavity. And never again will the lack of coverage cause a child to die from an infected tooth that could have been addressed for about $100.

The ACA also protects the programs that already work so effectively for low-income kids by improving Medicaid, extending the life of the successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through 2015, and maintaining current benefit and eligibility requirements in Medicaid and CHIP through 2019. The evidence is clear that having health coverage is essential for a child to grow up healthy and strong, and these programs — which are the source of coverage for more than one-third of all American children — ensure that low-income families can get their kids the high quality, affordable, comprehensive care they need when they need it.

While we anxiously await the day when these victories for kids are felt for every family member in America, today is a day to celebrate this giant step forward for children, families and all Americans. The ACA has indeed changed the lives and health of our children for the better.

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