Wednesday, August 7, 2013
As the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act – also known as “Obamacare” – nears, the Goose Creek NAACP held a forum to talk about healthcare, and the changes ahead.
S.C. HIV/AIDS Council Executive Director Dr. Bambi Gaddist gave a presentation on ACA’s implementation at the Goose Creek NAACP’s monthly meeting in Goose Creek on July 22.
The new law essentially says that everyone who can afford private health insurance must purchase it, or face a federal fine. In theory, as the pool of insurance holders grows the cost of insurance for everyone would decrease, supporters say.
South Carolina is one of several states that has rejected federal funding of one aspect of the law, which calls for an expansion of Medicaid benefits.
Detractors of the law say that it is simply too expensive over the long run for South Carolina. The majority of the state’s legislative delegation are against ACA, and Gov. Nikki Haley is an outspoken opponent.
Supporters claim that the law is itself a compromise between the two sides of a national healthcare debate that has raged for decades: it keeps the private insurance system in place while in theory covering most Americans.
Several aspects of the law, including a provision that makes it harder for insurance companies to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, have already gone into effect.
Gaddist, a supporter of the law, said that the health care debate has largely turned into political theater.
“The ‘Obamacare’ vernacular is vouched in a lot of politics,” Gaddist said. “Health is not a political issue . . . healthcare is low-priority for a lot of people. We anticipate some bumpy roads, there’s always adjustments in anything that's new.
“This can potentially be an opportunity not only for themselves but their children and their children’s children to live a healthier and happier existence.
“Massachusetts did this a long time ago, what we’re proposing for the nation. If you ask the average citizen about that they will tell you they have benefitted from the requirement of healthcare because it has advanced their access and wellness.
“We hope to share this information with as many people as possible and let them make their own decision as to if it’s advantageous to their families.”
In her presentation, Gaddist said that many areas of the South has always suffered from poor healthcare. “As a culture we are still learning why healthcare is important,” she said. “This country should not be denying people who have no access, access to preventable healthcare.”
She said rather than prevention many people wait until they are on their deathbed, or wait until something is broken, to fix it: “Our whole goal is preventing the future spread of disease . . . my dad used to say, frequently we are products of our environment.”
Residents below the poverty level who have no children and no disabilities fall through the Medicaid coverage gap, but the ACA would change that, according to Gaddist.
Everyone who pays taxes must enroll in the ACA plan between Oct .1 – March 31. Anyone who does not enroll will be fined when their taxes come.
“We’ve got to get everybody we can to enroll,” she said. Gaddist said about 3.1 million young adults were able to stay insured under their parents because of the ACA.
There are unnecessary expenditures in healthcare because prevention is a cost-saver in the long run, Gaddist said.
“We deal with people who think this will solve all their problems and its’ all free – that’s incorrect. This is about early intervention. This country has never been for prevention.”
For more information, Gaddist recommends visiting websites Healthcare.gov and NASTAD.org.