On April 29, Families USA released a report that profiles two residents in neighboring states: Iowa, which chose to accept federal funds to extend health coverage to more adults through Medicaid, and Missouri, which has rejected federal funds to do the same. Our report shows how a state’s choice to extend health coverage can make a real difference in people’s lives. It also shows that if a state chooses not to extend coverage, that choice is not only a great injustice—it threatens access to care for Americans who need affordable, quality health care.
After the 2014 elections, the predictions for Medicaid expansion were full of doom and gloom. But as lawmakers begin to close out their sessions in 2015, there are signs of progress and hope that opposition to Medicaid expansion is eroding. Montana offers the most recent case for optimism, this week becoming the 30th state (including D.C.) to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
As we approach the end of April, the special enrollment period (SEP) for tax filers is coming to a close. The tax SEP was just one of many SEPs out there. Now enrollment assisters can focus their outreach and partnership efforts to target specific populations who may qualify for other SEPs. For advocacy groups and those providing application assistance, it’s time to spread the word that coverage is available for people now, as their lives change.
Across the country, there is tremendous momentum to change how health care is delivered and paid for in order to improve quality and to curb costs. These initiatives to transform the health system have the potential to improve care for everyone, and could directly address health disparities. Advocates must actively engage in these reform efforts—both to protect communities of color from harm and to take maximum advantage of opportunities to transform health care delivery to better serve people of color.
In the second open enrollment period that just ended, one million more people of color signed up for marketplace coverage under the Affordable Care Act than enrolled during the first year. This achievement is thanks in large part to the more than 20,000 thousand navigators and assisters around the country who offered in-person assistance in communities of color. But we’re far from achieving equity when it comes to health coverage. Here we share recommendations to make improving enrollment efforts in communities of color a priority.