The Affordable care Act and the Latino community

Ever since the Affordable Care Act was pioneered by President Obama, and became law on March 10th, 2010, it has been a focal point for controversy and criticism among an American public with different political views. Over the next 4 years after its passage, a series of changes to the national health care system was supposed to be taking place; however, 26 states, which view the law as an intrusion by the federal government, have challenged before the United States Supreme Court the constitutionality of key provisions that the law contains, and are currently awaiting a ruling in June, before proceeding with its implementation. You might be asking yourself though, how will the law and the Supreme Court’s decision affect Latinos in Central New York and the United States?. This article is designed to provide the reader with general information on the subject so that he or she may know how it may affect their community.

According to the White House, there are several ways, in which Latinos would benefit from the law, if it is fully implemented. The Obama administration’s publication entitled, “Health Reform for Latinos the Affordable Care Act Gives Latinos Greater Control over Their Own Lives,” which can be found at www.whitehouse.gov, lays out the features of the law that would benefit Latinos. Among the beneficial features he has highlighted are:  free access to preventative services, a prohibition of denial of coverage based upon pre-existing conditions for children, an expansion of the Medicaid program, and permitting parents to put their children on their own health plan. By including these initiatives in the law in favor of Latinos, Obama says he seeks to eliminate health disparities that currently predominate among Latinos. Other initiatives included in the law are a system of data collection to track health outcomes along racial lines, and also measures seeking to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of health care professionals in the field.  The law also seeks to allocate $6.3 billion in additional funding for Medicaid to Puerto Rico. 

An issue brief released on April 10th by the Department of Health and Human Services projects the positive results that the law may bring to Latinos. The law would expand coverage to an estimated 736,000 Latino between the ages of 19 and 25,  an estimated 5.4 million Latinos, who otherwise would be uninsured, will gain coverage by 2016, and Latinos with higher incomes would be eligible to purchase subsidized coverage. 

Here in Central New York, the SyracuseCommunityHealthCenter would benefit from a Supreme Court ruling that upholds the law. $11 billion would bolster Community Health Centers around the country. This should result in an increase of needed services to Syracuse and the surrounding areas. The expansion of coverage will mean an increased demand for health care professionals in the area and infrastructure to support them.

However, most of these beneficial effects are just theoretical because the law has not been implemented yet, and conservative critics of the law cite several legal aspects, which they feel will have a negative impact on the public. The first is the health care law’s individual mandate that requires all individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a fine. Many critics say that this would not eliminate the cost of uncompensated care, which is spread around to the rest of us. The second is the huge fiscal burden they say it places upon tax payers; exact figures of the law’s total cost have been a source of contention.  Another characteristic of the law that they depict as flawed are: the public option, which they have deemed as a single payer government takeover of health care; and the business mandate that imposes an 8% payroll tax on employers, who will probably dump everyone into the public option instead of paying the higher health insurance premiums.

Obviously, if the Affordable Care Act survives the Supreme Court ruling, we will be observing some interesting changes to our health care system despite anyone’s political beliefs. If it does not, it will have to be replaced with something different.

The websites below can provide more information on the Affordable Care Act, and on how it pertains to the Latino community.

www.votolatino.org

www.healthcare.gov

www.hhs.gov

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