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Debated health care law covers 2011 graduates

One year ago, a democratically-controlled Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, a step towards what it hoped would be major health care reform. While many uncertainties surround the law, including its constitutional merits, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said 2011 graduates will be the first young adults to benefit from the law.

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

Sebelius said under the law, young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ health care coverage until the age of 26, as long as their parents’ plan covers children.

The class of 2011 will be the first group of graduating seniors that will benefit from the new law, Sebelius said. Sebelius estimated that nearly 1.2 million students will be graduating in the spring.

This controversy concerns many law-makers, including current Speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner of the 8th district of Ohio, who called it “unconstitutional.” He spoke out 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.”

Tobin Van Ostern, an employee of Campus Progress, said along with Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) and the Young Invincibles, a young adult advocacy group, Campus Progress has been working to ensure that there is access to affordable health care for young people throughout the country. According to its website, Campus Progress is a national organization that works with and for young people to promote progressive solutions to key political and social challenges.

Sebelius also said this law will give students more options when they graduate, not having to worry about getting a job right away that offers health insurance. She said it can encourage people to do what they want to do – not what they have to do – to get health insurance.

Josh Luster, a fourth-year in international studies, agreed with Sebelius.

“It helped me out because I wouldn’t have to worry about getting a job right away; I am covered under my parents’ insurance until I am 26. That gives me the freedom to do what I want to do and not be under the pressure of finding health insurance,” Luster said.

Luster said he hopes the law does not get repealed because of the many ways it helps him. He recognized that it costs money but believes it is worth the return.

Should the law survive a Republican-fueled push to repeal, another benefit of the Affordable Care Act includes making it illegal for insurance companies to cap the dollar amount of care one can receive in a lifetime, Sebelius said.

Student PIRGs released a guide to graduates, providing information on healthcare, specifically focusing on their needs.

President Barack Obama addressed graduates in the guide, highlighting other benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

“The new law also makes it illegal for new health insurance plans to charge you a deductible or other fees for important preventive services,” Obama said in the letter. “This means services like flu shots, nutrition counseling and help quitting smoking will be covered by insurance plans with no additional charge.”

Obama also said in the letter that many powers have been taken away from the insurance companies, including some powers to revoke coverage.

“It will be illegal for insurance companies to rescind your coverage when you get sick, just because of a mistake on your application,” Obama said.

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell released a video Wednesday, also highlighting what he believes to be the negatives of the Affordable Care Act.

“Half a trillion dollars will be cut from Medicare to be spent on new government programs,” McConnell said. “Federal health spending is estimated to go up more than $450 billion over the next decade.”

Sebelius encourages anyone who has questions about the law and about healthcare in general, to go to healthcare.gov, a new website devoted to outlining federal health care. She also encourages people to view the resource guide from Student PIRGs and to learn what the healthcare reform law means for them.

Campus Progress, the Young Invincibles and Student PIRGs sponsered the conference call.

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