One year after President Obama signed into law the sweeping health care reform act, the federal official in charge of the Texas region said she is optimistic about the prospect of bringing affordable health care to millions of Americans despite efforts to gut the law and a constant barrage of criticism from conservatives and consumers alike.
“I am thrilled to be an advocate for the Affordable Care Act because it brings the possibility of good health and a good health care system to millions of people and helps them in managing the system,” Marjorie Petty, director of Region 6 of the Department of Health and Human Services, told a lunchtime gathering of professors, lawyers and health care workers at the Law Center.
“As you know, there has been a bit of a cacophony,” she said. “And I welcome that cacophony. I welcome the discussion and I welcome the opportunity to work through an overwhelming piece of legislation.”
While the act has been under attack since before the president signed it on March 23, 2009, Petty is optimistic that much of the law will remain intact despite the power shift in Congress because many parts are already funded through other legislation. Courts have split on the constitutionality of the Act which will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, but Texas already has been awarded $77.4 million in grants to set up various programs, she said.
A key provision of the act provides an insurance option for those who have a pre-existing medical condition. While only 1,000 Texans have applied in the first year, Petty said she expects that number to grow as more people learn about it. She concedes wading through and understanding the sweeping Act is a challenge, but adds: “If you take it piece by piece it is not that complicated. There is just so much of it.” There are many programs to walk people through provisions of the Act and government agencies are reaching out to spread the word, she said.