The Affordable Care Act and Community Health Centers

The healthcare reform, known as the Affordable Care Act
(ACA) is on its way to being fully implemented. By 2014 all parts of the law will be in effect. As many as 23 million people will receive health insurance coverage under the ACA, and an additional 16 million people will have the opportunity to enroll in Medicaid. By 2014, the ACA will provide real relief to American families.

An important part of the new law is called the individual mandate. This will require every United States’ citizen or resident to purchase health insurance. The idea behind this mandate is to have everyone participate in the health system. Immigrants who are living and working legally in the United States will be required to participate in the health insurance mandate. Undocumented people are exempted from this mandate. Here is a brief description of how the mandate works:

If you have insurance- either through your employer or through a plan you purchased outside of workyou do not have to pay a penalty or worry about the mandate because you are already covered. If you do not have health insurance now, starting in 2014, you will need to get it or face paying a tax penalty. If you fall into the uninsured group, there will be new ways to make it easier for you to find and pay for health coverage. Lowerincome and many middle-class families will be eligible for subsidies to help pay for insurance costs starting in 2014.

The Affordable Care Act will help American families who are uninsured today by providing them with affordable options. Through tax credits given to families to buy insurance, and an expansion of Medicaid, new coverage options will be provided to families who could not afford health insurance before. The ACA will make the Medicaid program available to those families who are at or below the Federal poverty level (for a family of four, that’s $30,000 a year). Families who make more money than this will benefit from the new tax credits to help them afford healthcare coverage.

The Affordable Care Act will improve the way doctors and hospitals provide care to their patients, because they will be able to provide preventative services, as well as more information about new drugs and treatments. In addition, the Affordable Care Act will promote transparency, accountability, and competition among health insurance companies by implementing new standards they must follow when setting their prices.

There’s also an added safety net for all Americans, insured and uninsured. Starting in 2014, insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage for medical treatment, nor can they charge more to people with health problems.

Because finding insurance can be confusing and overwhelming, under the Affordable Care Act, States will be given Federal money for Consumer Assistance Programs. If you need help with a health insurance problem or have a question about coverage or benefits, you can contact the California Department of Managed Health Care. (888) 466-2219.

The Affordable Care Act will be a blessing for many people who have gone too long without health coverage. But sadly, many people will still be left uninsured and unable to pay for medical care. Unfortunately, this includes many of the nation’s farmworkers. The ACA does provide $11 billion in funding to community health centers, and according to the National Association of Community Health Centers, this funding will allow migrant health centers to almost double the number of people they serve by 2015. Currently, fewer than 25% of farmworkers use migrant and community health centers for primary and preventative services.

For those of you who will remain uninsured or underinsured, Migrant health centers will provide a safety net to keep you healthy. Because they do not require you to have insurance to receive services, farmworkers and their families will continue to have access to healthcare even after the provisions of the ACA are implemented. Providing quality care to more than 5 million Californians each year, these community clinics remove barriers for individuals who have difficulty accessing the center, translation services, and health education. Health centers may also provide supplemental services such as additional dental care, mental health services, or substance abuse treatment. Farmworkers are more likely to experience higher incidence of workrelated injuries, respiratory problems, musculoskeletal ailments, eye problems, hypertension, diabetes and pesticide-related illnesses. Community Health Clinics may be the answer. If you have any of these ailments, health centers for farmworkers can provide the treatment you will need.

to care for farmworkers in a variety of
ways:

  • Provide health care in the patients’
    own language;
  • Provide treatment regardless of the
    patients’ ability to pay;
  • Located in areas near migrant and
    seasonal farmworkers, often times
    using mobile vans and;
  • Customize services and hours of
    operation to meet the patients’ needs.

These health centers are required to provide primary, preventative and emergency health services regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. Primary health services include diagnostic laboratory (blood tests, urine tests) and radiology services (X-rays). Preventive health services include pediatric care, prenatal and postpartum care, immunization, family planning, health education, and preventive dental care. If a health center is not equipped for after-hours care, emergency health services will sometimes be provided by an outside provider which has a relationship with the health centers.

Health centers are also required to provide services such as transportation for individuals who have difficulty accessing the center, translation services, and health education. Health centers may also provide supplemental services such as additional dental care, mental health services, or substance abuse treatment.

Farmworkers are more likely to experience higher incidence of workrelated injuries, respiratory problems, musculoskeletal ailments, eye problems, hypertension, diabetes and pesticide-related illnesses. Community Health Clinics may be the answer. If you have any of these ailments, health centers for farmworkers can provide the treatment you will need.

In addition to the general health center requirements, migrant health centers are required to provide other special services you may needs such as supportive services, environmental health services, accident prevention, and prevention and treatment of health conditions related to pesticide exposure. For a list of Migrant Health Centers in California, visit: www.cpca.org