Pressure from both sides as health-care law marks first year

    Wednesday marks the first anniversary of the Affordable Care Act becoming law. Key provisions set to go into effect in 2014 have uncertain futures as critics challenge them in Congress and federal court, but the law’s supporters are pointing to programs already in place to bolster support.

    Teresa Mansell of Montgomery County mentions her own situation when she hears complaints about the health-care law. Her 23-year old son has been able to stay on the family’s insurance plan while he is in graduate school because of it.

    “It saves us monthly premiums,” Mansell said. “It helps our bottom line.”

    A few years ago, Mansell and her husband paid about $300 a month to cover an older son after he turned 23, her plan’s cutoff age. She said she’s glad for the extra cushion for her younger son.

    “The job climate isn’t the greatest, so, at least while he’s searching for a job, he won’t have to worry about health insurance,” Mansell said.

    More than 170,000 young adults in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are now eligible to remain on their parents’ insurance policies, according to estimates in the law. It guarantees such coverage until age 26.

    The law is also providing tax credits to small businesses to help them cover employees. Medicare patients are getting prescription drug rebate checks and free preventive care as part of the health-care overhaul.

    The most far-reaching parts of the law, including a mandate that people buy health insurance, have yet to kick in and are being challenged in court. Last week, acting Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine said he wanted to see a Supreme Court ruling on whether an individual mandate is constitutional before Pennsylvania decides whether to create a state-level health-care exchange.

    The law is also spawning reform efforts less targeted on individual provisions.

    “In such a big sweeping law, there were some things that are popular and would be effective in some areas and some that weren’t,” said Eric O’Keefe, a leader of the Health Care Compact Alliance, a national group pushing for health-care decisions to be made at the state level. “So we really think the problem wasn’t any particular element, it was ‘one size fits all,’ federal government imposes a solution.”

    President Barack Obama is sending Cabinet members around the country this week to draw attention to the law’s consumer-friendly provisions already in place.

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