About Our Organization
What is HCAN?
Health Care for America Now (HCAN) is a national coalition of more than 1,000 groups in 50 states representing 30 million people. We work to promote, defend, implement and improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at the state and federal levels, protect Medicare and Medicaid, increase corporate accountability and confront forces that seek to take away critical services. We believe in creating jobs, not cutting programs people depend on.
We run comprehensive issue campaigns that mobilize people at the grassroots and define the public debate. HCAN is fighting to protect, implement and improve the new health care law through national and state-based legislative and regulatory campaigns built on grassroots action, public education, communications, policy analysis and ground-breaking research. We have become a respected voice and national leader on health care while continuing to focus on aggressive field activity in priority states to build support for our issues and shape the politics for 2012.
How is HCAN funded?
HCAN is funded primarily by our member organizations, individual contributions and foundations. HCAN is a section 501(c)(4) issue advocacy organization. Members of the HCAN coalition include a wide range of nonprofit and advocacy organizations that are working to promote quality, affordable health care for everyone in America and other important social justice issues. HCAN and each member organization conduct and fund only those activities appropriate to their tax and election law status. Additionally, HCAN is related to the Health Care for America Education Fund, a project of The Tides Center, a section 501(c)(3) public charity.
How is HCAN governed?
HCAN is governed by two bodies, our Executive Committee and our Steering Committee, the members of whom include the most widely respected and influential progressive organizations. The Executive Committee is made up of the following organizations: AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Alliance for a Just Society, Americans United for Change, MoveOn.org, National Education Association, SEIU and USAction. The HCAN Steering Committee is made up of the following organizations: AFL-CIO, AFT, AFSCME, Alliance for a Just Society, Americans United for Change, Campaign for America’s Future, Center for American Progress Action Fund, Communications Workers of America, Leadership Center for the Common Good, MoveOn.org, NAACP, National Council of La Raza, National Education Association, National Women’s Law Center, SEIU, UAW, UFCW, USAction and Working America. Find more information on these two bodies here.
Where does HCAN operate?
HCAN works with community, faith-based, labor and civil rights groups all around the country. We work with organizations that have long-lasting relationships within their communities and with their elected officials. Please see a list of our current state partners.
What issues does HCAN work on?
The ACA is comprehensive reform of the health insurance marketplace and implementation is occurring at a time when opponents are trying their hardest to deny the benefits of the law. Subsequently, the issues we work on both implement the law and defend it against its political opponents. These issues include:
- Medical Loss Ratio
- Premium Rate Review
- Insurance Reform
- Medicaid & Medicare
- Health Insurance Exchanges
- Attacks on the Health Law
- Racial & Ethnic Health Disparities
- Health Insurance Industry
- Corporate Accountability
How can I get involved in HCAN?
Join now! We’ll keep you in touch with what’s happening in Washington, DC, and in your state to protect quality, affordable health care for all. We’ll let you know how you can help in the most critical fights. For instance, we might ask you to call or email your Member of Congress, join a rally, share your personal story, or pass along an email to a friend. Sign up for HCAN Alerts. You can also volunteer with a local group that is affiliated with HCAN.
Finally, consider making a donation. We are grateful to individuals and organizations that have financially supported our work – become one of them!
About Health Care and Health Care Reform
What is the Affordable Care Act?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ACA, signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, represents an historic step towards ending the insurance industry’s stranglehold on our health care, eliminating the worst insurance company abuses and guaranteeing that all Americans have quality and accessible care they can afford.
The ACA makes insurance rules fairer for all of us and will help 21 million people obtain insurance in 2014 (the first full year of implementation) and 34 million people get coverage by 2021. Everyone will have new consumer protections that will make health insurance transparent and more affordable. Many people with insurance are already experiencing the benefits of the law, like no-cost preventive health care and the ability of young adults up to age 26 to stay on a parent’s health insurance.
The law will be fully implemented by 2014 when the ACA requires health insurers to accept all insurance applicants, regardless of their health status and pre-existing conditions. Most insurers will also be required to provide coverage that meets federal standards for benefits and cost-sharing.
In 2010 and 2011, many provisions of the ACA went into effect, including requiring insurers to:
- Cover preventive services free of charge
- Allow parents to keep adult children up to age 26 on their insurance
- Offer coverage to any child under the age of 19, regardless of health status
- Eliminate lifetime limits on benefits and raise annual limits for benefits (which also will be eliminated by 2014)
- Spend a minimum of 80 percent of premiums on actual medical services and quality improvement (instead of CEO salaries and bonuses, for example)
- Justify premium increases
- Eliminate the practice of rescissions (when a health plan retroactively cancels coverage after the enrollee gets sick)
How does the Affordable Care Act affect Medicaid and Medicare?
Medicaid is the health plan for low-income children, adults and seniors and people with disabilities. The ACA expands Medicaid coverage to all individuals under age 65 with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level (about $30,000 for a family of four.) The federal government will shoulder the majority of the costs for newly-eligible people. Payment for the primary care services also will be increased at federal expense in 2013 and 2014.
Medicare is the health plan for seniors and people with disabilities. The ACA improves and strengthens Medicare. In 2010, nearly 4 million beneficiaries received help with prescription drug costs, and in 2011, Medicare beneficiaries saved more than $1.2 billion. Preventive care is also available at no cost, a benefit that 19 million seniors took advantage of in 2011.
Who benefits from the ACA?
We all benefit in many ways from the ACA. The law will be fully implemented by 2014.
The benefits include:
Improvements to your insurance: All insurance policies will have to offer comprehensive benefits – including free preventive care – similar to the benefits offered by large employers. Insurance plans will have to offer coverage to everyone regardless of whether a person has a pre-existing condition, and they won’t be able to charge more based on the health or gender of the applicant. Insurers also won’t be able to put caps on benefits and out-of-pocket costs will be limited.
Affordable new coverage options: A health insurance exchange will be created in each state. If you don’t have coverage through your employer, this marketplace can be your new one-stop-shop for health insurance. Some small businesses will also offer coverage through the exchanges. The health insurance exchanges will be organized to help you do apples-to-apples comparisons of different plans to know exactly what you are buying. Families without employer or government coverage with income below 400% of the federal poverty level (about $90,000 for a family of 4) will receive help paying premiums, on a sliding scale based on income.
Help for small businesses: Also, in January 2014, small businesses with 25 or fewer employees (depending on average wages) are eligible for a tax credit of up to 50% of the premium costs paid by the employer, making coverage less expensive for small businesses purchasing health insurance in the health insurance exchanges. Large businesses will provide coverage for employees or pay a fine.
How do seniors benefit from the ACA?
Seniors receiving health coverage through Medicare will benefit in many ways through the ACA. First, over time the law will completely phase out the “donut hole,” which is the coverage gap in the Medicare prescription drug benefit. To start, in 2010, nearly 4 million beneficiaries in the coverage gap received $250 checks to help with their prescription drug costs. In 2011, seniors received a 50% discount on all brand-name and biologic drugs in the “donut hole,” which saved beneficiaries saved more than $1.2 billion. In addition, 19 million seniors benefited from no-cost preventive care, including a free annual wellness visit and personalized prevention services. Also in 2011, overpayments to private insurance companies who sell Medicare Advantage policies were frozen and will be phased down. The ACA also includes various quality initiatives to improve the care Medicare beneficiaries receive and crack down on fraud, waste and abuse.
How do small businesses benefit from the ACA?
In 2010-2013, small businesses with 25 or fewer employees can now deduct up to 35% of employers’ premium contributions from their taxes, making the cost of coverage much cheaper. In 2014, small businesses with 25 or fewer employees (depending on average wages) are eligible for a tax credit of up to 50% of the premium costs paid by the employer, making coverage less expensive for small businesses that purchase insurance in the health insurance exchanges.
In January 2014, small businesses can choose to offer employees insurance through their state’s health insurance exchange or through the same state insurance market they’ve used in the past. In the exchange, business owners will be able to compare insurance policies apples-to-apples to know exactly what they’re buying. Small businesses are not required to provide insurance to their employees and are not penalized for not providing coverage.
How do children and families benefit from the ACA?
Beginning in 2010, insurance plans cannot deny care to children because of pre-existing conditions. Also, insurance companies can no longer cancel a plan because someone gets sick or put a lifetime benefit limit on a person’s coverage.
Young adults up to age 26 are now able to stay on or go back on their parents’ insurance plan if they don’t have access to their own insurance through an employer.
What does the legal challenge to the ACA mean for the new law?
In June 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the health care law’s requirement that everyone have health insurance. The insurance reforms, such as requiring insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, work best when everyone is in the insurance system. If people were allowed to wait until they got sick to enroll in coverage without insurers charging them more based on their health status, then the cost of coverage would rise for everyone else. The Court also held that the states aren’t required to expand their Medicaid programs to include the lowest-income adults. Each state will have the option to participate. Given the federal government’s commitment to pay for the vast majority of Medicaid costs for these new enrollees, most states will enthusiastically expand their programs. In other states, HCAN will lead the fight to overcome partisan opposition and ensure the lowest-income families are not locked out of quality health insurance.
How can I learn more about the ACA?
To learn more, please visit our Issues section and sign up for our email alerts for the most up-to-date information on health reform implementation. Other organizations also have helpful information on the health care law.