The Affordable Care Act: What Can Teen Pregnancy Prevention and Teen Parenting Organizations Do Now?

Shelby Emmett

The Affordable Care Act is a very complicated piece of legislation. Although the Act was passed in one bill, it does not take effect all at once, and with the controversy surrounding the constitutionality of the Act itself, it can be hard to determine what organizations should be doing to prepare for full-implementation and what organizations should be doing right now to ensure teen pregnancy prevention and support for young families is a top priority as the Act is implemented at the state level.

The United States Supreme Court won’t rule on the future of the Affordable Care Act until June, but in the meantime, Healthy Teen Network will attempt to keep you up-to-date on all the latest developments to ensure if the Act stands as is, our members will know exactly how the law affects their organization, their clients, and the public health field overall.

Each year, more parts of the Act are implemented. For example, in 2010, young adults up to age 26 could still be on their parents insurance and insurance companies were no longer able to discriminate based upon pre-existing conditions. In 2011 the Health and Human Services department began setting up the criteria for the State Exchange program, and now in 2012 we are seeing some states begin to implement their state exchanges—while many others are taking the “wait and see” approach to see if the Act will be upheld first before allocating funds to set up the required exchanges.

Starting January 1, 2014, new health insurance markets called exchanges must be up and functioning in every state. The purpose of these health exchanges is to create a more organized and competitive market for buying health insurance. The exchanges are meant to offer a choice of different health plans, certify plans that participate in the exchange, and provide information to help consumers better understand their health insurance options. Beginning in 2014, exchanges will serve primarily individuals buying insurance on their own and small businesses with up to 100 employees, though states can choose to include larger employers in the future.

As an organization, Healthy Teen Network is tracking progress of the exchange process all over the country and is seeking direct involvement in the state of Maryland, our ‘home’ state. We want to take you through the step-by-step process HTN is following to ensure we are proactive in any and all opportunities coming out of the implementation of the Act, while at the same time helping you understand what you can be doing to ensure teen pregnancy prevention and parenting programs and resources are priority in your states’ exchange program.

We have just released this fact sheet, highlighting states that have already passed state exchange legislation, have pending legislation, or have done nothing regarding exchanges to date. Included in the fact sheet are proposed Action Steps, such as contacting policymakers to ensure you are a voice for teens and young families at the state level.

Shelby Emmett, JD is the Policy and Legal Coordinator for Healthy Teen Network.

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