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Part 2 Discussion of the Government Shutdown, the Affordable Care Act, & You

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Part 2 will continue the discussion of the current events in America, with a focus on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and how it affects all Americans, especially those with disabilities.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) & the Changes It Entails

October 1st marked the opening of the Healthcare Insurance Marketplace.  The Marketplace was established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is the policy that is under siege by the shutdown.  The Marketplace provides a new means for Americans to find quality health coverage that is more affordable to their particular health and financial needs and circumstances.  The hope for the Marketplace is that it will provide great assistance to those who are currently without health insurance, or those who are interested in doing some healthcare “window shopping” to get more bang for their buck.  The enrollment period will be open for 6 months, and coverage under the ACA will begin as soon as January, 1, 2014.

The ACA has been under fire for fear of rising health costs that could prove detrimental to the financial stability of the nation.  However, we cannot ignore the provisions of the ACA that positively impact the lives of women, low-income, and disabled Americans.

  • Health insurance companies can no longer deny you coverage, whether you’re an adult or child, because you have a pre-existing condition.  This key factor of the provision is very importany to persons with disabilities, since health insurance options were limited due to this discriminatory practice.
  • Those who suffer from mental illness will now have coverage as well,  The ACA will require health insurance companies to provide mental health care services in the same manner as they do for physical health.  This is a tremendous win for the mental health community, which is plagued by stigma and prejudice in how mental health services and programs and those affected are viewed and treated.
  • Being a woman was also considered a pre-existing condition by health insurance companies, as women were charged higher rates for coverage and gender-specific treatments.  Health insurance companies can no longer charge women more for coverage.
  • Individuals who are under the poverty line, but did not quality for Medicaid because their income were too high, can find health care coverage for themselves and their families.

Though there are many individuals who support the expansion that the ACA underlines, some of those same supporters may not have access to these benefits if their state refuses to participate.  26 states have refused to expand Medicaid coverage to an estimated 11.5 million Americans who qualify under ACA, according to the Urban Institute research findings.  In my home state of South Carolina, 232,000 residents will go without health coverage who are eligible under the Medicaid expansion.  Low-income Americans are being disenfranchised by their respective state’s blatant disregard to ensure that all residents have fair access to health care coverage.  The kind of mentality legislators and governors in these 26 states have about ACA fails to take into consideration how their inaction are impacting the livelihood of their constituents, who elected them to serve in their best interests.

What This All Means To You

Hearing the President and federal legislators talk on camera about the shutdown and ACA has weighed heavily on many of us.  In some way, whether directly or indirectly, we know of someone or a family who are feeling the sting from the latest developments in our nation.  It is a terrible feeling for families to worry about how they are going to survive in such an unpredictable circumstance.  We have no knowing of how long the shutdown will last, or how it will weaken our economy.  The finger-pointing, name-calling, and unwillingness to put aside differences and work for the betterment of the country is creating tremendous distress and anger across the nation.  Constituents want their politicians to work together for the good of the nation; not for the worst so that one can say that they were right and the other side was wrong.

As you are reading this article, you may be wondering, what can I do to make Washington listen to me and my concerns about how they are leading this country?  One powerful thing you can do is to RAMP YOUR VOICE by contacting your congressional representatives, and demanding that they come to a quick resolution to the debt crisis.  There are close to one million federal workers who are directly affected by the shutdown; individuals who are eager to return to work and fulfill their duties to the American people.

You can visit USA.gov website to find a directory to contact your elected officials.  On this website, you will be directed to links that will provide you with the contact information (email addresses, mailing addresses, and phone numbers) of President Obama, Vice President Biden, congressional representatives, state governors, state legislators, and government agencies.  Here’s the link to this invaluable resource:  http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

My hopes, which aligns with many in this country, are that our politicians from both sides of the aisle will come together and negotiate a deal that will propel the status of Americans and the economy onto greater heights.  The battle of who’s right/who’s wrong will be the downfall of this great nation.  We as constituents have to make our politicians listen to our voices, and if they refuse, we need to take action by using our voting power to elect people who will listen to us.  The only way things will change is by proactive behavior and unity from all sides; not the inactive mediocrity that is the current status quo.

(Featured headlining image:  Courtesy of Pixabay.)

About Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization she created to establish herself as a Disability Rights Consultant & Advocate. Ramp Your Voice! is a prime example of how macro-minded Vilissa truly is, and her determination to leave a giant "tire track mark" on the world.

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