The law cracks down on the worst insurance industry abuses. The law makes these companies spend their money on you -- they must spend at least 80 percent of the premiums you pay on actual health care rather than on fancy buildings or executive bonuses.
The law covers children, even with pre-existing conditions. No longer are you going to hit roadblocks when you try to get coverage for your child who has a long-standing illness or injury. And starting on Jan. 1, 2014, the same will be true for Americans of all ages. The days of being kicked off your insurance plan for being sick are going to be over.
I want to be clear -- you can't transform a health-care system, especially one that's as inefficient as ours, in an instant. But I'm confident this is the path forward, and, as legislators, we've got a responsibility to make the law work the best it can for the well-being of the American people.
West Virginia's Health Insurance Marketplace is just opening, and people will have six full months to explore what options are available and sign up. These Marketplace policies aren't just about patching you up when you are sick. In fact, they are all about keeping you from getting sick in the first place. The age of having to choose between food and medicine is on the way out -- just like the House Republicans' cynical attempts to panic millions of Americans so they won't seek out the coverage that's available to them.
We are, for the first time in our nation's history, so close to making the dream of affordable health care a reality.
Rockefeller is West Virginia's senior U.S. senator.