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Health Care Reform Celebrates 2 Years

Affordable Care Act

Photo of Dr. Jaime Torres and Acting Assistant Secretary Sheldon at SOMOS conference.Provisions in the nation’s new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, will help New York’s underserved Latino population get more access to health care, said Dr. Jaime Torres, Health and Human Services New York Regional Director, at a recent Latino legislative conference.

Dr. Torres spoke at New York’s annual SOMOS Conference in Albany on March 24. Administration for Children and Families’ Acting Assistant Secretary George Sheldon also attended the event.

“When President Obama came into power in 2009, he inherited two wars and an economic fiscal crisis, but there was also a crisis in health care,” said Dr. Torres, to a room of civic leaders. “We had 50 million people uninsured in our nation — one third of them were Latinos. We had one million people going bankrupt every year because of medical bills. Do you know how many of them had health insurance? Three quarters. We had also one person dying every 30 minutes in our nation directly related to not having insurance.”

Dr. Torres underscored the effects of the 2010 law:

  • Young adults can stay on their parent’s plan until they turn 26 years old.
  • Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children under the age of 19 due to pre-existing conditions. On Jan. 1, 2014, this coverage requirement extends to everyone regardless of age.
  • Insurance companies have to spend at least 80 percent of the revenues they receive from premiums on actual health care — not on salaries, marketing or administrative overhead.
  • All new plans must cover certain preventative services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance.
  • Starting in 2014, insurance companies may no longer charge women more than men for health care plans; “Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition,” said Dr. Torres.
  • Every state must have a plan to set up a health insurance exchange by 2014 to help people access affordable care.

Dr. Torres encouraged audience members to visit to see a timeline of how the law is enacted over four years (or in Español at

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