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Opinion

Protect Access to Health Care Coverage

January 10, 2017

In times of uncertainty, we try to find our footing to lead us back to a more certain path. At present we are entering a time that has many worried, afraid and wondering will we find our way back to the end of this epidemic. We are in a moment of great transition, but there are things that can be done to make our voices heard.

We have spent decades building a federal infrastructure to support the lives of those living with and vulnerable to HIV. Government funds have provided medication, healthcare, social services, housing and support to the millions of Americans living with HIV and prevention services to reduce the number of new infections that are stubbornly stuck at around 50,000 annual new infections.

Through the work and opportunities made available by the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) we've reached new heights and made serious strides to ending the epidemic. With a strong supportive comprehensive healthcare system, large goals in both prevention and care are possible. Thanks to the ACA a number of jurisdictions around the country have embarked on plans to end the epidemic in their areas. All this remains uncertain but that doesn't mean our voice can't be heard about what insurance means to us.

There are actions that can be taken between now and the start of the new administration that can have an impact on the evolution of healthcare in your community. Many of these actions are basic things we already know how to do. Make your voices heard. Our community has been built on the power of our ability to have our stories heard and felt by the masses.


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Four Things You Can Do to Help Protect Access to Health Care Coverage for People Living With HIV and People Vulnerable to HIV

  1. Talk about your healthcare. Explain what healthcare means to you and for those in your life. This is a conversation that's been a long time coming. Share it over your kitchen table, your dining room table, even at your happy hour table. Connect with your friends, neighbors, and family and talk about health. We are communities of powerful oral traditions and by sharing our stories we have the power to change lives.
  2. Encourage your friends and family to also call their elected officials. It can be a group event where you all call together, because they need to protect their health too. The health law helps deliver better, more affordable care to communities of color by:
    • Nearly doubling the number of patients served by community health centers - which are central to providing care in many African American communities. The law provides $11 billion in funding for these centers.
    • Reducing discrimination in the health insurance market based on medical history, including race, ethnicity, and gender
    • Investing in research into the root causes of health disparities focusing on cultural competency training for health care providers and providing scholarships and grants to increase diversity in the healthcare workforce.
    • Funding new programs to prevent and control chronic disease, including incentives to provide medical homes and chronic disease management initiatives.
  3. If you use social media, consider sharing your efforts with your family, friends, and followers. Take a brief moment to reach out to people to hear why healthcare matters to you and why you need Congress to protect your care. Our healthcare is too important to be ignored. So share at least once a week about the importance of healthcare. Be creative in your sharing, make it yours and make sure people know that what we tell our elected officials matters.
  4. If you work at an agency try your best to showcase your services to your elected official. Have indirect meetings or invite agencies to seek services. Show them the faces of those who will be helped and whose lives are most affected and impacted by the decisions of their policies and votes. Show them what will be lost and what's at stake.


Resources

Reach out to your Senators today at http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/50902/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=20257.

Matthew Rose is treatment, policy and advocacy manager at NMAC.


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This article was provided by National Minority AIDS Council. It is a part of the publication Achieve. Visit NMAC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 

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