Our fourth post celebrating the six month anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.

Six months ago today, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. Since then, the new health law has offered some concrete advances, including some that go into effect today and it’s laying the groundwork for even more.

By 2030, it is estimated that 72.1 million people in the United States will be age 65 or older, more than twice the number of older adults in 2000. As our population ages, it is vital that we improve how the system cares for and engages with patients who have multiple chronic conditions so they get care that’s tailored to their individual needs, receive clear information from their doctors, don’t have to repeat tests, and get the supports and services they need to stay in their homes and out of the hospital.

So far, the Affordable Care Act has helped to close the donut hole for Medicare beneficiaries, created new patient protections, made it possible for people to get better information and compare health insurance plans online. But we know much more is needed to provide quality, coordinated care for millions of vulnerable patients and their family caregivers — the people who need help the most. And there is more to come.

Starting next year, preventive services and annual check-ups will be free for Medicare beneficiaries, hospitals will receive more funding to help provide a smoother transition from hospital to home, and primary care providers in Medicare and Medicaid will receive increased payment — to make sure that everyone has access to primary care.

Perhaps most importantly, the ACA offers unprecedented opportunities to improve the poor coordination that plagues our health care system — one of the core issues we and our partners at the Campaign for Better Care are working to address. These include:

— A new Center at CMS designed to promote innovative ways of providing care, such as using team-based primary care — A new option for states to create medical homes — Incentives for hospitals to reduce preventable infections and readmissions

These and other ACA reforms give us the tools to create sustainable, effective coordinated care programs that can provide patients and their families with better care and better outcomes. The ACA can bring the improvements we urgently need — but only if it is implemented with patients and their family caregivers as the focal point. Making that happen is the mission of the Campaign for Better Care.

Community Catalyst has been working toward this mission since it helped create the Commonwealth Care Alliance, and we are proud to bring the lessons from CCA and others to the work of the national Campaign and to the six state Campaigns in Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In each of these states, advocates are at the table where decisions are being made to implement key ACA delivery system reforms. We applaud this critical work and urge Hub readers to join existing Campaign efforts or to learn how to get involved in their own states.

Happy Half-Birthday, ACA!

— Renée Markus Hodin, Director Integrated Care Advocacy Project