Access to Care
An estimated 7.3 million Americans with cardiovascular disease (CVD) are currently uninsured. As a result, they are far less likely to receive appropriate and timely medical care and often suffer worse medical outcomes, including higher mortality rates. The American Heart and American Stroke Association supports efforts to extend health care coverage to all Americans and works to ensure timely access along the entire care continuum, including emergency care, telemedicine, and rehabilitation and recovery services.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law on March 23, 2010 and was subsequently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2012. Since the act took effect, a number of provisions have benefited Americans with heart disease and stroke. Although no law is perfect, the provisions included in the ACA meet the associations health reform principles and expand access to affordable and adequate health insurance coverage, including the preventive care and medicines to reduce an individual’s risk factors as well as the range of services patients need to recover from heart disease or stroke; place a stronger emphasis on community prevention and wellness; and improve the quality of care that patients receive. While the ACA has recently suffered setbacks, the association continues to work with the administration and congressional leaders to ensure that care remains accessible for our community.
Medicaid and Medicare are also important components of our system of care. Medicaid provides an important safety net for 16 million Americans with a history of heart disease, stroke or other forms of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including seniors living in nursing homes, children with congenital heart disease, and those who have been disabled by stroke, congestive heart failure or other CVD. Some states have implemented programs that allow Medicaid to cover low-income adults. Known as Medicaid Expansion, it will become an increasingly important source of coverage for currently uninsured adults who have or are at risk for CVD.
Medicare is a federally operated program for seniors and covers individuals 65 years and older in addition to some other eligible populations. The vast majority of Medicare beneficiaries also have some form of CVD, and they depend on Medicare to provide stable, affordable health care for their conditions.