It's full speed ahead for health care in Alameda County
County Supervisor Wilma Chan and community gather to celebrate historic ruling
and to map out next steps
Oakland, CA – At an event billed as a, “Celebration of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Affirmation of the Affordable Care Act,” local families, health leaders, and county officials gathered at the Frank Kiang Medical Center in Oakland to mark the critical moment and to begin to cast their eyes forward.
“We wanted to spend a moment with the community to mark this important milestone and to share how the county has been preparing for the implementation of health reform,” said Supervisor Wilma Chan. “Millions of Californians will now have greater access to health care and health insurance, and now we can all work together to make sure they get the care they need,” she added.
While many have focused on the national impacts of the Affordable Care Act, its primary impact is felt locally, in communities across the country. County health departments often run local clinics, hospitals and other parts of the social safety net. In addition, counties are often responsible for finding and registering all eligible residents for health insurance programs. Alameda County, for example, bears primary responsibility for identifying and signing up patients who are eligible for publicly-funded health coverage, such as Medicaid.
“The Supreme Court has validated the health law and now we in Alameda County must implement to its fullest. When we do, many local residents will benefit with access to the coverage and care they need. Moving forward, it will be important to work together with our regional partners to ensure the survival of the safety net,” Chan concluded.
In addition to expanding coverage to millions in California and around 164,000 in Alameda County, the Affordable Care Act includes important provisions that end the ability for insurance companies to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions or impose a lifetime cap on medical coverage. At the event, Martha Wright of San Leandro shared her story.
“My daughter Abby was injured in a playground accident and suffered traumatic brain injury. We learned about the lifetime cap on coverage during the third month (of four) that Abby was in the hospital. We also worried that her injury, a pre-existing condition, would prevent her from ever having health insurance coverage again. Now that the Affordable Care Act has been upheld, we can focus on Abby’s care and not the frailty of her coverage,” said Martha Wright.
Supervisor Chan and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors Health Committee held six hearings in 2012 to explore what the law will mean for Alameda County residents. Those hearings will continue in the months ahead.