Act removes barriers to health care services

Letter to the editor by SEIU 521 vice president Carmen Morales-Board, printed in the Bakersfield Californian, Tuesday, May 8, 2012

As a perioperative nurse practitioner and certified diabetes educator, I daily witness the devastating effects of unmanaged chronic disease on the patients in my care. Limb amputation, stroke and kidney failure due to uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension is a sad reality for those unable to access essential primary/preventive care services and lifesaving medications.

The Affordable Care Act removes financial barriers to front-line care by eliminating copayments for basic health care services. There are new initiatives and programs to provide care and promote wellness. In 2011, copays were eliminated for 9 million Californians, and 245 new community health centers are providing basic health care services in areas of the state where they are most needed. Through the county Public Health Services Department’s Community Transformation Grant, we’re going to start seeing more community gardens farmers markets, and increased walkability.

Best of all, millions of Americans will receive insurance rebates this summer via the act’s 80-20 rule. Insurance companies must now put 80 percent of premiums toward health care services or care improvement; they cannot spend more than 20 percent of premiums on operating costs.

During this National Nurses Week, many of my colleagues and I are celebrating the fact that more of our patients are getting much needed health care through the many benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Now, we can focus on providing our patients the best care possible, rather than navigating the limits and barriers posed by their insurance status.

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