Guest Blog: Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky's Susan Zepeda talks ACA and Landmark Supreme Court Case
The Supreme Court ruling in King v. Burwell resolves the issue of whether Americans who purchased their insurance through the federal insurance exchange are eligible for tax subsidies that help them afford insurance premium costs. While this case was not a direct threat to Kentuckians - due to the presence of a functioning state-developed exchange, kynect - it could have harmed low-income families in states throughout the nation that opted not to create their own state-level insurance exchange. Further, in those states where the future financial viability of a state-run exchange is in question, there is now a "safety net" of the federal exchange.
While many have been awaiting this important decision, we must remember that much remains to be done to assure that all Kentuckians - and all Americans - have timely access to safe, effective and affordable quality care. The Affordable Care Act includes incentives and opportunities to move the nation in this direction - improved access to preventive care, the ability for parents to insure their adult children to age 26 on the parents' policies, precluding discrimination against individuals and families dealing with chronic health conditions, and the opportunity for low-income families to access Medicaid and middle-income families to access subsidized private insurance.
In Kentucky, where more than a half million people have gained insurance through the Affordable Care Act, the work to assure access and improve health continues. Diverse groups of individuals and organizations from across Kentucky continue to work with the state to find ways to continue to improve and protect Kentuckians' health and wellbeing. Reforming the way we pay for care and making cost and pricing more transparent are under discussion. The state has expanded scope of practice for Advance Practice Registered Nurses. There have been promising advances in telehealth, and early evidence of better integration of behavioral, oral and other primary care services. Substance use treatment is now a reimbursable service; and steps are being taken to reduce the risk of drug overdose deaths and of HIV and Hepatitis C in drug users. Sustainable models are needed, to assure access to care for rural Kentuckians. As people who have forgone care too long, because of its expense, now gain access to care it will place a larger short-term burden on the health care system which approaches like these can help to address. The Affordable Care Act permits - and incentivizes - local health care innovation. We can and must shape Kentucky solutions to Kentucky's health challenges.
So, as the President noted in remarks following the SCOTUS decision, let's get back to work!
--Susan G. Zepeda, President/CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky