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Transformative moment for health care

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2011 - Autumn


Although the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act faces legal and political challenges, it provides, said Howard Koh, M.D. ’77, M.P.H., a “transformative” moment.

“All patients want good care, good insurance so they can get good care, and not to be patients in the first place,” said Koh, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, when he delivered the Herbert Goldenring Memorial Lecture for the Department of Pediatrics in April. Noting that the act includes 10 titles, or sections, Koh said, “The law puts those 10 titles together in a unified package to give patients what they want.”

The act expands coverage for young adults, provides tax credits for small businesses to help purchase coverage for employees, guarantees coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, closes the Medicare “donut hole” (coverage gap) for prescription payments, provides preventive care, and promotes public health. A similar program in Massachusetts, where Koh was commissioner of public health from 1997 to 2003, “has driven down the rate of the uninsured to 2.5 percent, the lowest in the country,” he said.

“We are at a historic time as to the status of this law,” Koh said. “It is a moment that gives us an extraordinary opportunity to make our country healthier by 2020 and beyond.”

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