When Congress returns to D.C. from August recess, they will dive right into work that presents both opportunities and threats for health care. As a result, September will be a good time for health care advocates and activists to engage with their elected officials to make sure they protect affordable health care.
Oral health is an important part of overall health for everyone – but it can be crucially important to someone who is fighting a serious condition, such as kidney failure, an autoimmune disease, cancer or a heart problem. Unfortunately, Medicare covers almost no dental/oral health care, and imposes ill-considered restrictions on the limited care it will cover.
At the end of July, health care supporters prevailed over lawmakers who sought to pass destructive legislation that would have stripped millions of people of their health coverage and cut Medicaid for seniors, children, and people with disabilities.
Our country owes much of this victory to advocates and constituents in key states who spent the past eight months organizing to protect our care from this harmful bill. Working with Families USA and other national partners, state consumer health advocates used an array of tactics that made an enormous contribution to the campaign to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid. Through rallies, town halls, meetings, press and social media engagement, calls and letters to Congress, state-focused policy analysis, and other critical tactics, these state organizations raised public awareness of what was at stake and put pressure on lawmakers to oppose the harmful legislation.
Efforts to shift to a value-based health care system create an opportunity to improve the quality of care and health outcomes, save money for consumers and the health care system as a whole, and drive reductions in health disparities. But such positive outcomes from payment and delivery reform efforts are not guaranteed. There are some elements of this proposed rule that can help reduce health disparities, but a real commitment to health equity requires additional steps from CMS.
Connecticut just took an important step toward improving health outcomes for its most vulnerable residents. Earlier this summer, the governor signed a law that lays the foundation for the broader use and support of community health workers (CHWs).
Community health workers play a valuable role in helping people achieve better health. Because they are trusted community members, they are uniquely effective at connecting underserved communities to the health care system and helping people navigate social factors that pose barriers to good health. In doing so, CHWs help to improve health outcomes and narrow health disparities.