Since enacted by Congress in 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly known as health care reform, has been the subject of both celebration and condemnation. Virginia's circumstances provide a clear example of what the new law aims to improve, and it is already bringing better access to care for many state residents, according to Jill Hanken, a staff attorney with the Virginia Poverty Law Center. While many states, including Virginia, are challenging the law, they are also receiving millions of dollars in federal funds as they work to implement it. The article focuses on the high cost of care and insurance premiums, the private insurance practices that leave many insured people without coverage when they need it, and the uninsured. Several important insurance reforms are already in effect and provide significant protections to consumers, she writes. Yet at the same time they are implementing it and benefitting from it, Virginia and other states have filed various court challenges to the new law, Hanken points out. While these cases work through the courts, a Virginia Health Reform Initiative Advisory Council appointed by Gov. Bob McDonnell has developed recommendations about implementing health care reform in Virginia. The advisory council adopted 28 recommendations focusing on improving Virginia's health system, with or without national health reform and reflecting many of the federal act's aims, Hanken notes. "Virginia is well-positioned to move forward," she writes.
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The Virginia News Letter