Enormous task ahead on health care

Jan Hudson

With the release of more information and analyses on The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148), and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, I am struck by the enormity of the task before us to implement the provision of health care reform.

I am very grateful for the expertise joining us at the Public Policy Forum, Federal Health Care Reform: Challenges for the States, Friday, April 23, sponsored by the Michigan League for Human Services in collaboration with the Michigan Health Insurance Access Advisory Council.

I am sure our speakers will provide valuable information as we seek to implement, in the best possible way, this great opportunity to provide health care coverage to 32 million more Americans, but also limit the financial burden on families while improving the overall system – a daunting task indeed.

I can’t think of a better person to open the policy forum than Ron Pollack, Executive Director, Families USA.  His belief in and commitment to meaningful health care coverage for all Americans has been unwavering and unflappable through all the years and all the turmoil and distraction preceding its passage. 

He always kept his eye on the finish line.  For many of us, he was the one to maintain our spirits when things looked particularly bleak earlier this year.  I know he will have great insights to share.

Our afternoon panel, Janet Olszewski, Kevin Seitz, Kris Nicholoff, Ed Wolking and Sister Mary Ellen Howard will provide a broad spectrum of perspectives on the Michigan specific challenges to implementation, from how to expand Medicaid, to insurance implications, to provider challenges, to business challenges, to challenges for those who are uninsured.

I know we all have many questions about health care reform and its impacts, and the policy forum will certainly provide a great opportunity to obtain answers. 

I’m hoping to find out how the young adult extension of coverage (to age 26) will be implemented – can any young adult without coverage qualify, will they have to be claimed as dependents on their parents’ income taxes to quality?  Will the Medicaid eligibility maintenance of effort require that the Adult Benefits Waiver be maintained at 62,000 recipients, rather than being reduced to 50,900 as is recommended in the FY2011 budget?

I am also hoping that recent analyses, summary of the law from Kaiser Family Foundation or  Summary of Medicaid, CHIP, and Low-Income Provisions in Health Care Reform from the Center for Children and Families, Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, based on the laws, will stop the dissemination of information that is misleading or an effort to create fear, such as the assertion by some elected officials that “every American will be required to buy health insurance or face jail time.”

Due to the complexity of this issue, I don’t think there can be too much discussion or education on the impacts and implementation issues related to health care reform. 

I encourage you to educate yourself by participating in as many conference calls, webinars, or policy forums as your time permits, starting (or continuing) with ours on April 23 at Eagle Eye Golf Club, just north of East Lansing.

Other opportunities include a forum by the Detroit Regional Chamber and a Webinar by Michigan’s Children.

— Jan Hudson

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