California Black Health Network hosts Black media conference call to help spread word about President Obama’s New Health Care Plan to African-Americans

*President Obama’s Affordable Car Act (ACA)—affectionately referred to as Obamacare will provide millions of low-income and middle-class African-Americans with access to preventive care.

This access and spreading the word about it, was the topic of a statewide media conference last week in which the California Black Health Network (CBHN) brought together elected officials, healthcare administrators, and members of the Black press for an update on the implementation the President’s new Health Care system in California and what it means for African-Americans.

Senator Curren Price

“Historically, Blacks have been faced with significant barriers to accessing affordable health insurance and these barriers have contributed to significant health disparities including HIV/AIDS, cancer, and diabetes,” explained State Senator Curren Price.

“We’re stepping into a new era where Americans—in particularly Black Americans are in control of their own health and have equal access to the tools to promote a healthy lifestyle and that starts with preventative health care.”

According to the CBHN, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling upheld the majority of the ACA except a provision that would have penalized states for not expanding their Medicaid programs.  The high court left intact many of the more popular provisions of the law that have already gone into effect including a regulation that allows children to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26 and another provision that ensures health insurance companies cannot deny coverage to anyone based on pre-existing conditions.

Perhaps more important to African-Americans is that low-income residents who are not eligible for Medicaid, will benefit from federal subsidies that will be made available to help pay for health insurance.

According to CBHN approximately 21 percent of African-Americans were uninsured in 2009, and more about 20 percent of African Americans did not have a regular doctor, compared with less than 16 percent of white Americans.

Darcel Lee

“Under California’s previous 1115 Medicaid Waiver, Ten California Counties were selected in 2007 to receive Federal funds to expand care to low-income childless adults,” explains California Black Health Network’s Executive Director Darcel Lee.  “Now all counties will be eligible to receive federal funds for programs that serve low-income childless adults if they meet the age, residency, and income requirements. This new source of funding will help counties maintain, improve, and expand their health care services for low-income childless adults.”

Childless Adults

Low-income childless adults who are not eligible for public health benefit programs like Medi-Cal or Medicare will now be able to enroll themselves in programs called Low Income Health Programs or LIHPs and receive free preventative health care services. In 2014 under the Affordable Care Act most childless adults will become eligible for Medi-Cal, or for subsidies in the Health Insurance Exchange.

Shameika Johnson, 34, is extremely excited about the new changes.

Unemployed, Shameika recently enrolled in the Healthy Way L.A. at Watts’ Martin Luther King, Jr. Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center, which she says is her regular medical home for most of her medical appointments.

To qualify, Shameika had to be between the ages of 19 and 64, have a monthly income of less than $1,207, and not be pregnant or eligible for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families.

“It’s a relief to know that I can go to the doctors when I need to,” she explained.

“I’m going through a really rough time in my life right now and the last thing I need is to get to sick.  Having access to medical care gives me a certain sense of relief and I am grateful for it.”

The President’s new healthcare system benefits childless adults like Shameika. She can now receive, primary care, access to in-house pharmacies to fill prescriptions, an assigned “Medical Home” at a location near their home or work, preventive care and mental health services, access to specialists, care management services for chronic illnesses like diabetes, urgent and emergency medical care, and even a 24/7 nurses advice line.

Rep. Laura Richardson (CA-37)

Congresswoman Laura Richardson who represents California’s 37th Congressional District which includes Carson, Compton, Watts, and Long Beach says that, “when someone puts off regular check-ups and preventative care, by the time they get sick, it’s usual chronic or life-threatening, and that’s more expensive in the long run.”

Richardson, an ardent supporter of the Affordable Care Act, says that for the people in her district, this single piece of legislation is going to make a huge difference in treating the health disparities in the Black community.

Additional benefits include that insurance companies now have to cover preventive carelike mammograms and other cancer screenings and also makes a significant investments in State and community-based efforts that promote public health, prevent disease and protect against public health emergencies.

Californians can log onto cablackhealthnetwork.org or call (916) 333-0613.