By Barb Rea,
ESPC Health Issues Volunteer
As a member of the Wyoming Health Care Commission and now as a Consumer Representative for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, I’ve had the opportunity to hear high level presentations and discussions about healthcare reform from people who have devoted their careers to improving the healthcare system for the rest of us. These folks are mighty happy to that we finally have a law in place that addresses the healthcare system as a whole.
Nearly all agree it is not perfect, but gives us a place to start that did not exist before March 23, 2010, the date Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. We'll take an in-depth look at the ACA
While policy makers have known for decades that health reform was essential to the economic stability of the country it has been a long and difficult battle to get healthcare reform to the front burner. It’s hard to keep it there.
Admittedly, there is a lot of information for busy people and citizen legislators to learn, but it’s not impossible and there is a lot at stake. Sometimes I think Wyoming people and especially their policy-makers assume that we are so different from the rest of the country that what happens in Washington, D.C. won’t really change anything we do here. But in this case, we would be missing an opportunity to fix some Wyoming problems.
I have a friend who was told by the State Employees’ health insurance carrier, Great West, that the back surgery her doctor told her she needs is medically unnecessary. I also remember in the paper last year a couple was protesting in front of Blue Cross Blue Shield because the cancer drug that their doctor said the husband needed to keep him alive wasn’t in their formulary.
In both cases, there is no amount of consumer research that could have changed these stories. I’m sure they were never even given a chance to make a choice about what their insurance covered or didn’t cover. No one knows what kind of illness they may get and no one really knows the details of what their policy covers until they need it.
On the other hand, if providers are getting away with performing unnecessary surgeries or prescribing expensive new medicine that works no better than the previous version, we want to know that.
Our system should be more transparent, we should know that our providers are practicing evidence based medicine that works and that insurance will pay for the care we need. But in these cases, the patients and their families are suffering not only from their disease process but unnecessarily from a broken healthcare system.
Will health reform solve these problems and many others? Not without constant attention.
An educated public can:
- help move the discussion from one that polarizes and paralyses to one that solves real problems;
- help policy makers remain focused on the ultimate goal of health reform—security for our friends and neighbors in the form of guaranteed access to high quality affordable healthcare.
September conference offers facts on ACA
Several agencies and organizations have come together as One Health Voice to provide a forum where people can hear directly from policy experts about why we need health reform and learn about what the Affordable Care Act can do to begin to transform our healthcare system.
Please join us on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011 in Casper for a one day symposium about healthcare reform and the Affordable Care Act, the new healthcare law.
T.R Reid, best- selling author of “The Healing of America, A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care, will keynote the event.
Policy experts from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, Consumers Union, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy and from Governor Mead’s office will provide overviews of the law, what role states will play in achieving the results they want and what consumers should expect in a reformed health care system.
The conference is open to everyone.
You can register on line at www.OneHealthVoice.com or contact LRosedahl@pubaffairsco.com.
One Health Voice includes the Equality State Policy Center and these allies: AARP, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Children’s Action Alliance, Consumer Advocates:Project Healthcare, Department of Family Services-Adult Protection Services, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, CO-WY Chapter, Wyoming Center for Nursing and Healthcare Partnerships, Wyoming Epilepsy Association, Wyoming Health Care Access Network/PhRMA, Wyoming Hospital Association, Wyoming Primary Care Association.