Last weekend, on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 I had the extreme pleasure of attending the “Making Good Health My Reality” town hall meeting held in Brooklyn, New York. This eight-city tour was set to visit communities where health disparities among people of color and low income individuals are the greatest. The tour includes a series of workshops, educational town halls and health fairs to equip communities with critical information needed to prepare for enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace opening Oct. 1, 2013. This effort is co-hosted by The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. The Centene Foundation for Quality Healthcare, The National Association of Community Health Centers in cooperation with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. Health Braintrust.
One of the tour stops was in my home town of Chicago, Illinois. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend due to prior commitments. However, since I live in Harlem New York, I felt compelled and inspired to attend, and to just be “in the building” and learn what all the proverbial fuss, doubt and in many cases confused uncertainty is regarding this upcoming Healthcare Reformation Movement that is upon us as a nation. Although I was unsure what this meeting would truly entail, it was worth the long commute from my uptown Harlem brownstone on an early weekend morning, to the very far away parts of the Borough of Brooklyn. At least an hour and a half one way by subway commute.
Nevertheless, once I arrived I was pleasantly surprised, thoroughly informed and highly impressed by what I saw, the information distributed and the detailed presentations made to the community of villagers who attended. It was not a huge, pressing crowd initially, but it grew and swelled as the morning hours led into the lovely afternoon haze and the five hours that we were convened at Thomas Jefferson High School. I further appreciated the tone set by the language presented in and during this process of healthcare education. To date there are many phrases that have been coined and used to describe this new law. Yet during the town hall meeting the terms Health Insurance Exchange and Health Insurance Marketplace were so eloquently presented and use. These terms are “officially” packaged and presented on all printed literature, online at websites and by way of social media outreach. By “re-languaging” and “re-labeling” affordable healthcare access, this in many ways removes the “stigma” usually associated with public programs offering “assistance” to those who are unable to afford healthcare via traditional means. This will undoubtedly draw more people to apply for and become more involved with this national programmatic thrust.
With this being said, let us be clear Obamacare, Obama Care, The Affordable Care Act, Healthcare Reform, Health Insurance Exchange and Health Insurance Marketplace are all the same thing. The official name for “Obamacare” is the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act, a bill signed into law to reform the health care industry. Let it be further understood and noted that Obamacare is the first step toward true health care reform in the U.S. Some aspects of Obamacare have already been enacted. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law March 23, 2010. More than 100 million Americans have already benefited from the new health care law. Obamacare requires that all insurance plans cover preventive services and stops insurance companies from dropping you when you are sick, as well as offering a number of other reforms and protections. The Affordable Care Act extends health care coverage to at least 30 million uninsured consumers along with an expansion of Medicaid services. It also promises a slew of tax credits for small businesses and middle-income families to help offset the costs of mandatory coverage.
Additionally, Obamacare is a hot and trending political issue as both sides of the aisle are still in many ways debating the issues and facts of the matter. Now that President Obama’s healthcare overhaul has won the last stamp of approval from the U.S. Supreme court, the burning question being asked is, “who is going to pay for it?” Much of the cost burden will be shouldered by the health care industry and employers that provide workers with insurance. On an individual consumer level, however, it will be the wealthiest Americans who feel the sting of Obamacare. In the end, with all of the money that the U.S. has erroneously spent on wars and other senseless, unneeded, random acts of unexplained, financial misallocation, who cares who picks up the tab? Whatever the price tag for a well-cared for citizenry, it is not too hefty to pay in an effort to make sure that the wealthiest nation in the world has a fair chance to become the healthiest nation in the world. After all, to be healthy, wealthy & wise should go hand in hand in hand. At least, I think so!