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By HUD Region X Regional Administrator Mary McBride

Why does a Federal agency responsible for housing and urban development care about the Affordable Care Act?  It’s pretty simple. 

HUD is charged with building strong, healthy communities.  And the key to strong, healthy communities is strong, healthy families and individuals. And that is what the Affordable Care Act is all about. 

The income of the typical family assisted by HUD is $12,500 a year.  That $12,500 pays for food, puts gas in the car, clothes on the kids and keeps the lights on and the water running.  There’s not much, if any, left to buy health insurance. 

Before the Affordable Care Act for far too many of these families health care has been a luxury.  Thanks to the Act, it’s not a luxury anymore.

But the Act  is not just good for the 46 million Americans without health insurance.  It will also be a big help to those already insured.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies cannot deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition.  Your kids can stay on your plan until they’re 26. You will get prescription drug discounts if you are elderly or disabled.  You won’t need to make a co-payment for preventive care.  If an insurance company uses less than 80 percent of the premiums you pay for health care, you’ll get a rebate. And families will not have to choose between housing and health care.

And there’s one more, very important reason to thank the Affordable Care Act.  Once and for all, it introduces competition to the health care marketplace.  It’s about time.  Year after year, health care costs have skyrocketed.  Not anymore.

The Act finally gives you the right to choose the coverage that best serves the needs of your family at a price you can afford.  That means that insurers must compete for your health care dollars.  And when companies compete, consumers get lower prices and higher quality health care.

Improving health care services.  Expanding health care coverage.  Cutting health care costs.  The Act creates a health care marketplace that makes for stronger, healthier families and individuals and, as a result, builds stronger, healthier communities. 

It starts with you, an informed and engaged consumer.  The Affordable Care Act provides programs and protections that insure you can get the health care you need.  For it to work, though, you need to be engaged and informed in making the Affordable Care Act work for you and your family.

Starting this October, eligible individuals will begin a simple enrollment process that allows you to select from numerous affordable options including Medicaid that will go into effect on January 1st, 2014.  So, now is the time to get educated and to start thinking about the choices you need to make for your family.

For more, visit or call 1-800-318-2596.  In more than 140 languages, it can answer your questions about how to make the Affordable Care Act work for you, your family, and the community you call home.