As a pediatrician, I've seen my work transformed by the Affordable Care Act, which celebrated its first birthday on March 23 ("Health care law alters political landscape," March 24). Before the passage of health reform, many of my diagnoses felt like mixed blessings: On the one hand, I was providing answers, relief, and medical management or cure to a child in need but on the other, I was burdening this child — perhaps even a newborn — with a "pre-existing condition" that would obstruct him or her from receiving needed care in the future.
Before the ACA, insurance companies routinely dropped or refused coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Thanks to the year-old law, that abusive practice is no longer allowed. When I hear a wheeze through my stethoscope, or detect a mass in the abdomen, or recognize signs of depression in a teen-ager, I know with relief that I do not have to prescribe future desperation as I treat the crisis of the moment.