Published Date: 2012-07-14
The Supreme Court has upheld the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a monumental ruling set to impact millions of people in the United States.
Hispanics will benefit from the already created Office of Minority Health and its efforts toward eliminating health disparities.
A 2009 Gallup poll found that 41.7 percent of Hispanics in the country, age 18 and over, lacked health insurance, compared to the national average of 16 percent and 11.6 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
Three in 10 Latinos are uninsured, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Under the health care law, many of those individuals will have access to health care, including the 39 percent of uninsured Latino children who will now be allowed to remain on their parents’ policies until the age of 26. Hispanic children will no longer be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
“If uninsurance is reduced to the extent projected in this analysis, sizable reductions in long-standing racial and ethnic differentials in access to health care and health status are likely to follow,” said authors from study conducted by the Urban Policy Institute.
One in 6 Hispanic seniors suffer from preexisting conditions and will be allowed access to health care under the ACA.
With the Affordable Care Act, 11 million dollars in funding for bilingual health centers will continue to assist communities, and Puerto Rico, which had seen an increase in Medicaid funding for the uninsured, will also retain access to funds.
Low income families, a large number of Hispanics, will have access to inexpensive health coverage through employers.
Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, who in 2012 became the recipient of the Society of General Internal Medicine’s prestigious Herbert W. Nickens Award for his exceptional commitment to improving minority health, believes Hispanics need to be included in the debate about health care.
“It’s a mayor problem for them. One third of Latinos lack insurance,” he explained.
Carrasquillo says, “the law is much better choice than the dysfunctional system that existed before it was enacted. Thus, while not ideal, I am happy the court upheld the law.”
Carrasquillo believes the decision is “very good news for the Latino community. This law will make a significant positive impact in improving access to health care for our community.”
According to Carrasquillo, “In addition to the many positive reforms already implemented, next year many more Latinos will be eligible for Medicaid or government assistance to buy private coverage.”
Carrasquillo thinks however, that ACA could have been simpler and less costly.
“I’m not happy about certain things,” he said, “like leaving the undocumented (immigrant) out. (…) The 12 million undocumented in this country will see no benefit. (…) And it forces poor people into Medicaid, which is not good. Although services vary by state, in general it’s very hard to see a Medicaid doctor – they’re badly paid.”
He added: “While it is a victory, there is still much work to be done. Leaving private insurance in charge of health care coverage is a concern as there have been many abuses in the past. We will also need to watch how states respond to the limits on Medicaid expansion, since that will play a major role in helping uninsured Latinos get coverage.”
Daisy Baez, founder and executive director of the Dominican Health Care Association of Florida, said: “Today’s Supreme Court decision validating the set of legislation knows as Health Care Reform is a victory for all Americans. The three branches of our government; the executive, legislative, and judicial, have spoken and validated the provisions in this law. This is how democratic government works.
“The majority has spoken and the law has undergone all necessary reviews, revisions, and checks and balances. It is time for all groups to work together to improve all aspects of this law thorough it implementation process.”
Baez added that “In addition to being a just and fair law this law is also an economic engine that will drive a significant segment of the economy creating jobs, opening new business and entrepreneurial opportunities, improving wage and salaries, and delivering improved quality health care. This is indeed a new day in America. In fact it should no longer be Obamacare but ‘Americancare.‘”
Raul Ruiz, Hispanic doctor and seeking election this November in representation of the newly formed California’s 36th Congressional District, thinks that the Affordable Care Act needs to address the physician shortage crisis more vigorously, although he supports the law:
“ACA is going to provide more people with health insurance, which is particularly important in this district. It will allow our youth to remain in their parents’ health insurance until they’re 25; it will eliminate discrimination against people with chronic illness, and stop the practice of making women pay more in health premiums.
“Growing up I experienced personally how difficult access to health care was,” added Ruiz. “My parents were farm workers. The first years of my life, I lived in a trailer; we were a low-income family and unable to afford health care. It was only until my father was promoted to work in a packing house that my family got health insurance.”
On the other hand, Argentinian doctor Claudia Chaufan, who is the Assistant Professor of Sociology and Health Policy at the University of California in San Francisco, opposes the law.
“ACA doesn’t grant equal access to health – it excludes undocumented immigrants, who would not be allowed to buy insurance even with their own money,” Chaufan said . “People need to know that Latinos are the worst-served, and will be the worst affected by the reform.”
Chaufan believes the ACA would institutionalize the worst of the current health care system.
“It makes people buy their junk. Even if it were universal insurance, as it is presented, with 26 million that will not be covered – according to a 2019 estimate – it’s underinsurance.”
The director of the Department of Chicana/o Studies at the University of California at Davis, Dr. Adela de la Torreis an expert on Latino health issues and strongly involved in political activism, including siding with the Affordable Care Act.
“Our health care system is so broken… there is no other alternative,” she says.
“For Latino working poor families the support of this act reaffirms that we will have options for coverage . In the past, Latinos experienced the highest rates of uninsured status, with this law in place we can now move forward with broadening coverage for our families,” she added. “However, our next step requires us to expand this to all members in our families – including all of those who are working immigrants. So we need to now look at immigration reform so we can address these pressing issues and amend this important act.
Jessica González-Rojas, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health’s executive director, said to Hispanically Speaking News:
“Latinas have historically faced a disproportionate number of barriers to basic health care, and we can now envision a future where those barriers begin to crumble. Everyone has a fundamental right to quality, affordable health care. Today’s Supreme Court decision is an important step toward making that right a reality.”
Congressmen Luis Gutierrez stated that “For Latino families, for Chicago families and for all families, the extension of coverage to young adults, the eventual extension of coverage to people who cannot afford care, and the security that will be built into our health care system are life changing and tremendously helpful.”
Jane L. Delgado, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, said in a statement that, ”The Supreme Court’s decision today was the right decision for America. Because of the Court’s action, 33 million Americans, including millions who could not get health insurance because they had a chronic illness like diabetes, will gain care they need and families will have financial peace of mind.
“The Supreme Court has made its ruling, but now Congress must continue to act to secure health care for all and ensure a robust health care sector that is creating jobs. The top of Congress’ list must be stabilizing state Medicaid budgets and incentives for employers to provide insurance.”
What are some of the benefits the Act has offered Hispanics, a group with the highest uninsured rates in the nation
According to Senator Robert Menendez,