During Hispanic Heritage Month we recognize the various contributions of our nation’s largest minority group and celebrate how far Latinos have advanced. This month is also a time to reflect on the fact that too many Latino communities lack the opportunities to live safe and healthy lives that are the foundation for building a strong, self-sufficient future. The good news is that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is helping more Hispanics obtain health insurance than ever before.
This week is National Mental Illness Awareness Week, and on October 10, health advocates around the world will observe World Mental Health Day. These events draw attention to the prevalence of behavioral health conditions and seek to combat the stigma that surrounds them. Communities of color in the United States face significant mental health disparities and greater barriers in getting the treatment they need. Fortunately, one way the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is improving the health care system is by requiring most health plans to offer free depression screenings as a preventive health service.
The clock is ticking for Congress to tackle a series of upcoming financial hurdles, including balancing the federal budget and appropriating funding for fiscal year 2016. Congress must pass a spending deal by October 1 or the federal government will shut down. In the process, lawmakers may target the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicaid, and other vital health care programs that serve low-income Americans in an effort to cut spending.
Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released its report on health insurance in the United States in 2014. That report showed that nearly 9 million people gained health insurance in 2014. This is by far the largest single year reduction in the uninsured since the Census began collecting data on insurance status in 1987. Generally, states that expanded Medicaid in 2014 saw the greatest drop in the number of residents without health insurance.
States are leading the way in improving how health care is paid for and delivered. Consumer advocates are integral to these reform efforts. Their participation can help ensure that reforms protect and improve consumers' access to high-quality care. While advocates often find it difficult to get involved in these discussions, the State Innovation Model (SIM) grant program gives consumer advocates an opportunity to weigh in on reforms in their states.
From February 4-6, 2016, the Health Action Conference—one of the nation’s largest gatherings of consumer health care advocates—will bring people together from across the country to prepare for the crucial work of improving access to affordable, high-quality health care. Registration begins November 1.
Last week, the federal government, for the first time, announced far-reaching regulations banning discrimination in health care. With this historic action, the government is prohibiting discrimination in the provision of health care services based on sex and gender identity. The new regulations announced by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also expand existing discrimination bans on the basis of disability or health status, race, national origin, age, or language spoken.
With a majority of states expanding Medicaid, many more people stand to benefit, including people recently released from incarceration. States are re-evaluating their policies regarding the Medicaid coverage of incarcerated residents. Here we explain why states should adopt policies that make it easier to keep the justice-involved population enrolled in coverage and offer ideas for working with your state to implement those policies.
On September 2, HHS announced grants to organizations from 34 states to deliver the in-person assistance that has proven essential to the enrollment process. We congratulate all those who received funding and applaud HHS for continuing to support these critical positions. One big change this year is that HHS awarded the grants for three years, with 12-month budget cycles. This shift to three-year funding brings stability to enrollment assisters in the 34 states that receive federal funding for navigators.