While many are weighing in on dismantling Obamacare, it makes sense to take a moment at look at what the Affordable Care Act was supposed to do.
It was supposed to provide affordable health care plans for everyone. It was supposed ensure that people were not denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. You were supposed to be able to keep your existing plan if you liked it. It was supposed to allow people to keep dependent children on their policies through age 26.
In some cases the ACA delivered on its promises and in some cases it didn’t.
While wildly unpopular with many, the Affordable Care Act did create a list of the services that must be included in a comprehensive health plan, and called them the “Ten Essential Health Benefits”. They are:
• Ambulatory care
• Emergency services
• Maternity and newborn care
• Mental health service and addiction treatment
• Prescription drugs
• Rehabilitative services and devices
• Laboratory services
• Preventive services
• Pediatric services
It would be hard to imagine a comprehensive health plan that excluded any one of them.
But that is what is being discussed in Washington; reductions to or elimination of some of the ten essential health benefits. Some in Congress believe that the ACA’s guarantee of coverage for ten essential health benefits is simply too expensive. Some suggest reducing or eliminating rehabilitative services. We know what would happen should rehabilitative services be scaled back. We know what stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury, amputation and other acute medical rehabilitation patients look like before they begin their arduous treatment programs. They are fearful and their families are unprepared. Without expert clinical therapy, counseling, training, practice and hard work, these patients face a lifetime of physical challenge and diminished independence.
Carefully conducted, peer-reviewed scientific studies on the benefits of acute medical rehabilitation are clear – such services lead to more days at home, fewer readmissions to the hospital, better function, higher quality of life and more days alive. Rehabilitation is not glamorous.
It is essential.