In communities of color, where rates of uninsurance and poor health outcomes are higher than in white communities, the differences between those who have insurance and those who lack it are stark.
Twenty-two states have chosen not to extend Medicaid coverage, leaving hundreds of thousands of their residents in the health coverage gap. These people—who do not qualify for Medicaid in their state, but cannot afford private insurance or marketplace coverage—are left without any option for affordable health insurance. Who are they?
While finding ways to support employees’ health is a laudable goal, some employers have designed wellness programs that penalize employees for failing to meet certain health outcomes, complete certain medical screenings or questionnaires, or fulfill other requirements under the program. Developments in recent months—including lawsuits against employer-run wellness programs filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—add to concerns that these programs can violate workers’ rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
America is on the cusp of becoming a nation with two health care systems. This sharp division is the result of continued resistance to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and it does greatest harm to residents where the resistance is greatest.
Two current developments are animating this division: One relates to state decisions about expanding Medicaid, and the other is the potential outcome of the Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell, which was brought by ACA opponents and was argued on March 4.
After expanding Medicaid, eight states (Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia) are expected to achieve budgetary savings and revenue gains exceeding $1.8 billion by the end of 2015, according to a report published yesterday. And that’s even though these states are fairly early into their Medicaid expansion.
Health care advocates across the nation are celebrating the milestone of nearly 11.7 million Americans gaining health insurance through the second open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, the latest enrollment numbers from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have led some to characterize enrollment of communities of color as “lagging.” What is getting less attention is the new HHS data showing a huge reduction in the disproportionately high rates of uninsured people of color.
Last night, the Senate voted to approve a bill extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 passed by a 92-8 vote, after the House passed it in a show of overwhelming bipartisanship last month. President Obama is expected to sign this bipartisan legislation into law.
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.
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.
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.