The healthcare community speaks out: protect the Affordable Care Act and it’s many benefits.
Last week I attended and make a presentation at the Families USA Health Action Conference in Washington DC, an annual gathering of health care advocates, policy makers, and professionals. Not surprisingly, the focus this year was on how the Trump Administration and the current Congress may change the health care landscape. Other people making presentations included surgeon, advocate, and acclaimed author Atul Gawande; former CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt, who visited ICS in October; and House Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi.
While each speaker touched on a different area of concern, the common thread was the need for the health care community to stay strong, most specifically, in defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also known as Obamacare. There was universal agreement that if there is a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, there must be a law that is as good—if not better—put in its place.
Speakers emphasized the ACA’s benefits: allowing young adults to remain covered by their parents’ insurance; preventing insurers from refusing coverage to folks with pre-existing conditions; and banning lifetime coverage limits. Another important benefit was the creation the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office, which created and oversees programs to improve health outcomes for people who are covered by both Medicare and Medicaid. This includes programs like the ICS FIDA plan, Community Care Plus, where each member receives coordinated benefits overseen by a single care manager, including: medical, dental, vision, pharmacy, hospitalization, urgent care, homecare, supplies and equipment such as wheelchairs.
I had the pleasure of presenting with Shelli Quenga, who heads a “Navigator” program in South Carolina. Navigators help folks select the health insurance plans that best meet their needs, and help each person make the best use of their benefits by explaining the rules of each plan.
The focus of our presentation – Helping Consumers in a Changing Health Policy Landscape – was untangling the difference between laws, regulations, policies, and opinions, so that health care providers can help their patients or clients. In other words, separating facts and current laws from rumors, speculation, and tweets, so that providers and patients can stay focused on the care each person needs in the here and now.
At our presentation we got to meet a number of folks from across the country, including the head of the Navigator program in New Hampshire; a senior attorney at North Carolina Legal Aid; and a staff member from New York’s Independent Consumer Advocacy Network—the ombudsman program for people covered by managed long-term care programs. I was energized by their enthusiasm for protecting the Affordable Care Act and their dedication to serving their clients, just as we serve our members at ICS. It was great to have the opportunity to share the ICS story and message with folks from around the country.