Celebrating health centers during National Health Center Week with open, honest discussion about the ACA
This Monday during National Health Center Week 2013 Highlandtown Healthy Living Center in
Baltimore, MD hosted a roundtable discussion of the Affordable Care Act with honorary guest, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. CEO of Baltimore Medical System Jay Wolvovsky opened the discussion by introducing the Senator as well as National Association of Community Health Center’s Senior Vice President Dan Hawkins who highlighted National Health Center Week and Senator Cardin’s work in supporting health centers throughout the years.
Senator Cardin then spoke briefly about the great work health centers do as well as some of the important features of the Affordable Care Act already implemented including requiring insurance companies to reimburse patients due to new medical-loss ratio provisions, providing free preventive services to Medicare patients, eliminating pre-existing conditions provisions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26. The Senator then opened the floor up to discussion about what the community stakeholders in the room felt challenged them as they prepare to see the insurance exchanges go live October 1st. Dr. Emily Sippel from Highlandtown Healthy Living Center mentioned the strain on primary care providers in the current system and especially in the next few years as individuals come out of the woodwork to receive primary care services. She stressed the importance of re-thinking the reimbursement system for primary care versus specialty providers, and Senator Cardin agreed and mirrored her concern. Jeff Richardson, Executive Director of Mosaic Community Services spoke of the limitations in required benefits in terms of mental health care. Additionally, Shirley Sutton, Managed Care & Government Relations Director at St. Agnes Hospital spoke about the concerns of increased emergency room utilization with higher insurance rates.
Near the end of the discussion, Sen. Cardin presented a Daily Point of Light award to Highlandtown Healthy Living Center volunteer Clara DelGallo who serves on the Board of Trustees of Baltimore Medical System and works at the front desk at Highlandtown as a volunteer. The hour-long roundtable discussion and proceeding recognition of a volunteer’s passion for the work she does in her local health center was an opportunity to reflect on the benefits of the health reform law, the challenges lying ahead and the positive role health centers have played and will continue to play in the health of America’s communities. You can watch the entire discussion here.