16.4 Million Reasons to Celebrate the 5th Anniversary of Obamacare

03/23/2015 06:49 pm ET | Updated May 23, 2015

Five years ago, President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. What is crystal clear today is that the ACA, which I proudly call Obamacare, is working.

There are 16.4 million Americans all across our country who now have affordable, quality health insurance because of Obamacare. Here of four striking examples of how Obamacare is making a huge difference the lives of residents in my Congressional District:

Gary Wood, of Glenview, IL, had a heart attack when he was 37. His insurance would not pay for his care because the insurance company determined his chest pains were a pre-existing condition. His hospital bills swelled to $35,000, which forced him into bankruptcy and left him uninsured. Nearly 20 years later, Gary needed a quintuple bypass. My office helped him secure coverage through Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, which enabled him to get the surgery he needed. Obamacare literally saved Gary's life.

Jackie Berman, a 64-year-old widow and former special education teacher from Chicago, enrolled in Obamacare. She really needed coverage after sustaining serious injuries from being hit by a car. Now Jackie gets the care she needs at an affordable rate.

David Price, of Chicago, has melanoma. He wrote my office describing his various health issues and how thankful he was for Obamacare. "It's not whether I will have another cancer, it is when," he wrote. "ACA will save me $4,000 per year. I need this program."

Laurel Tyler, of Wilmette, IL, wrote that she and her husband are business owners who have benefited from Obamacare. Their small business health care policy premiums actually dropped, but for their family the benefits didn't stop there. "These savings don't include the benefit of being able to keep our 22-year-old on our policy," Laurel wrote, "and the no deductible checkups and preventative drug benefits that saved us over $1800."

These are four of more than 800,000 Illinois residents who secured insurance through Obamacare -- that includes those who got coverage through the Medicaid expansion. The majority of those Illinoisans are getting a considerable amount of financial assistance -- 78 percent of those who signed up by January 30 qualified for an average tax credit of $210 per month and almost 50 percent paid less than $100 per month for their coverage.

Obamacare does much more than provide coverage to the previously uninsured -- it improves the quality of coverage for all of us. Critical cancer and other health screenings are free. Women and people with disabilities or chronic conditions are no longer charged more - or priced out of the market altogether. Insurance companies cannot cancel coverage when you become sick or injured. Annual and lifetime limits are now a thing if the past. Seniors and people with disabilities are paying less for their drug costs, and children up to age 26 can stay on their parents' policies. Millions of lives are being changed because the security and the quality of health coverage have been dramatically improved.

This is a reason to celebrate. People across Illinois and the country are healthier - and lives are being saved. Sadly, Republicans in Congress want to roll back the clock and endanger American lives. The 'Work Harder for Less' Republican budget would attempt to repeal Obamacare (for the 57th time). Millions of men, women and children would lose insurance. We cannot let that happen. Efforts to repeal Obamacare are misguided, dangerous and just another instance of Republicans fighting the political wars of years passed. But, health care shouldn't be about politics; it must be about helping people lead healthier lives.

This anniversary is a great time to look forward, celebrating that we are a healthier country because of this landmark legislation. Our goal should be to together to improve Obamacare so that even more people have access to affordable, quality health insurance and services.