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Debate rages on 1 year after health care reform

One year after the Affordable Care Act was passed, debates continue in Congress about the future of the law dubbed “ObamaCare” by opponents. Amid the debate, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, spoke about the importance of the law for college graduates.

“One of the groups of Americans that benefit most from the law is young adults,” Sebelius said on a conference call with student-journalists Friday. “A year ago, young Americans were among the most vulnerable groups in the health insurance market.”

Speaker of the House John Boehner, Republican from the eighth district of Ohio, spoke out against the bill on Wednesday, saying it is filled with “broken promises.”

“People kept speaking out as the law proved unpopular, unaffordable and unconstitutional,” Boehner said. “Together we can repeal ObamaCare, and replace it with common-sense reforms that lower cost and protect American jobs.”

On March 23, 2010, a Democrat-controlled Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, a bill that will, in addition to many other reforms, give young adults more health insurance opportunities. Under the act, college graduates will be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26.

The graduating class of 2011 will be the first group of people directly affected by the act, and Sebelius estimated there will be nearly 1.2 million people graduating from college in the spring.

“Americans in their 20s are almost twice as likely to go without health insurance as are older adults. The health law is beginning to change that,” Sebelius said. “Now, the Affordable Care Act has changed that across the country, so every young adult can stay on a family plan, up through age 26, as long as the plan covers children, and if they can’t get coverage of their own through work.”

Sebelius said this act also will implement the Patient Bill of Rights, which outlaws “many of the worst abuses of the insurance industry.”

“Insurance companies are now prohibited from capping the dollar amount of care you can receive in a lifetime or dropping coverage when you get sick due to a mistake on your application,” Sebelius said. “It is now illegal to deny coverage to children due to a pre-existing condition.”

Sebelius said she recognizes that there is a battle in the courts about the reform possibly being unconstitutional, but she plans for this law to remain, and is moving forward, getting the word out to young adults affected by the law.

Sebelius also encourages people to go to their new website, healthcare.gov, to learn more about health care.

The conference call with Sebelius was put together by Campus Progress, Student Public Interest Research Group and the Young Invincibles.

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