How does the Affordable Care Act affect me and my community? Well, that is a big question with a big answer. ACA is big, it is more than the marketplace and mandates – which, by the way, is still the law. It is a whole system of care and infrastructure and problem solving intended to make us healthier as a nation.
When I think of the ACA, what churns to the top of my thoughts are vulnerable populations, my neighbors, my own insurance, and where I live.
When I hear students playing in the schoolyard, I know many are economically disadvantaged. We have a shockingly large percentage of students on Free and Reduced Lunch. How many of those children are on AHCCCS/Medicaid or participate in the ACA Marketplace?
When I commute, I drive by community health centers, also known as Federally Qualified Health Centers. ACA funding impacts these clinics.
When I grocery shop, I see seniors counting their pennies with clipped coupons. Which seniors will endure a fall or become victim to MRSA, a staph infection? How many of them are Medicare and Medicaid dual eligible?
When I hear a first-responder siren, I think about behavioral health. According a recent report on the opioid crisis, my community is on a data map and it is colored red. Does the siren tell of another victim? Does that victim have behavioral health options or even a treatment bed for evaluation?
When I choose doctors, I wonder if they were part of the National Service Corp.
What about treatment options? Is there a new medication on the horizon for a chronic condition or disease by the National Institute of Health? Will my elderly relative have to travel to Phoenix to get treatment that is not available in the rural areas?
Will the county hospital financially be in the “green” this year or do we take a hit on our property taxes to support the district? Will they receive Disproportionate Share Payments for serving the underserved? What funding will be available?
What about all those medically served by the fire department, especially those who don’t have a point of care – who pays for that?
Finally, I ponder, will our family (employer) insurance be there tomorrow? I can’t afford a premium without help.
So, does ACA affect me, my family and my community? Answer: BIG yes!
How do we go forward? The answer is to include experts from multiple health disciplines to define reform around a common goal: affordable quality health care systems that are responsible, provide short-term stabilization and long-term solutions that protect all us.
— Jana Lynn Granillo is a health community advocate.