Immigration and Healthcare: No Talking Points This Election

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Immigrants on a steamship heading around the Statue of Liberty. Credit: Library of Congress

This week, I will be attending a two-day meeting on immigration and healthcare.  It’s not an area that I know a lot about and I am interested in your thoughts on the topic. Presidential candidates are not discussing the issues.

One worry that I have concerns privatizing of many public healthcare programs that have served immigrants well for centuries. America seems keen on privatizing right now, but the benefits and harms are not clearly known.

These issues are on my mind:

  1. Will immigrants who were able to get care in the public sector still have the same access once health care is privatized?
  2. Will preventive care, chronic care be available?
  3. Will more care be provided in the emergency room?
  4. Will shrinkage of the public sector mean that they will be sicker?
  5. What will happen to elderly immigrants? Will the healthcare system accommodate immigrants when they decline?
  6. What can be done in health policy and planning to bolster equity and fairness?

What are your thoughts on this issue?

 

Confused About What Health Reform Has to Offer:
Sept. 23rd Marks One Year with New Patient Protections

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Obama signs the Patient Protection and Accountability Act, 2010

You may not love every single bit of health reform coming down the pike, but make no mistake about it: new patient protections that went into effect one year ago had their one-year anniversary Sept. 23. I think health reform, as enacted by the Patient Protection and Accountability Care Act (AKA “PPACA”), is a milestone for patients.

PPACA has a universal mandate, meaning that every American must have health insurance. If you’ve followed this issue, challenges to the law have been filed, but it is too early to tell how things will end.

I like the concept of a universal mandate and coverage because it brings us closer to everyone sharing the risk and financial cost of health care for all. Sure, I’d rather see something like single payer, but politically, I doubt that would fly at this moment. I admit that I am biased in favor of health reform and I did plenty of writing for a living that clarified health reform. So continue reading with that in mind.
PPACA Measures Enacted  Sept. 23, 2010


New patient protections that went into effect on Friday are good news. In comparison with where we were before, or where the right could move this issue, the public should applaud these changes. Consider these changes that went into effect on Friday:
1.    Insurers can no longer impose caps on essential benefits like hospital stays.
2.    Health plans cannot drop you when you get sick.
3.    Recommended preventive care, such as screening mammograms, colonoscopies, and vaccinations no longer require copays, coinsurance, or deductibles in all new insurance plans.
4.    Your health plan is more restricted in enforcing annual spending caps, but they will be completely eliminated by 2014.
5.    Individuals with Medicare Part D coverage get a $250 rebate, and 50% of the doughnut hole will be eliminated in 2011. By 2020, the doughnut hole will be eliminated.
6.    Prior authorization for emergency care and denial of out-of-network emergency care has been eliminated.
7.    Women can go directly to their ob/gyns without referrals.
8.    Lifetime limits on most policies are eliminated.
9.    An appeals process at health plans must be in place.

10. Dependents can remain on the parents’coverage until age 26.

My discussion of the law is far from comprehensive. There is plenty more.

It’s easy to feel blue when we hear potential nominees for President sit silently while a mob suggests an uninsured 31-year-old man die.

So I am taking a moment to pause so that we can remind ourselves what new patient protections health reform offers. If you have more to add, please put them up in comments and tweet them. Here’s a nice graphic of what becomes effective, when. Bookmark it, show it to skeptics. Challenges to health reform are often scary.