Our nation must protect health coverage for the newly insured

January 11, 2017 Rod Hochman

These days, you can’t turn on the news or scroll the headlines without seeing some mention of the Affordable Care Act. “Repeal and replace” is the sound bite we hear over and over again. But the big question, yet to be answered, is “Replace it with what?”

While the ACA is far from perfect and has significant room for improvement, more than 20 million Americans, who were previously uninsured, now have health coverage as a result of the law. That’s why, first and foremost, our nation needs to protect coverage for the newly insured and needs a well thought out plan to prevent disruption in their care if the ACA is repealed.

Last year alone, Providence St. Joseph Health served nearly three-quarters of a million more people. Many of them delayed going to the doctor because they didn’t have insurance previously and were very ill by the time they arrived at our doors.  Some would have died had they not come to us when they did, and I am very proud that our teams were ready to care for each of them.

Serving those in need is core to our Mission. Providence St. Joseph Health was founded well over a century ago by the Sisters of Providence and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, who dedicated their lives to serving the poor and vulnerable. The same is true of our larger family, which includes Covenant, Facey, Hoag, Kadlec, PacMed and Swedish. We all share a deep commitment to our communities.

We look forward to being actively involved

While our organization supported the passage of the ACA and believes it is an important step forward, we see many opportunities for improvement in the law. The 106,000 caregivers of Providence St. Joseph Health serve nearly 11 million individuals each year across the Western United States. They are on the front lines of health care and see the needs and struggles of patients and families firsthand every day.  We look forward to sharing their perspective and serving as a resource for lawmakers on policies that will have real impacts on real people in the communities we serve.

Last week, I invited our Associate Vice President of Government Affairs Ali Santore to join me for a conversation about what changes may be in store for health care as Congress begins a new session and a new White House Administration takes office. I hope you’ll take a moment to hear some of her insights. Throughout the year, I’ll invite other colleagues who are close to the issues to share their perspectives with us.

These are important decisions that will affect the health of our nation, and Providence St. Joseph Health intends to be fully engaged in the conversation to be a voice for the communities we serve, especially those who are poor and vulnerable.

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