Letters to the Editor

What the Affordable Care Act and Health Care Exchange means for Denver’s Latinas

Dear Editor,

Did you know that Americans use preventative health at half the recommended use? Not surprising, the biggest reason not to seek preventive health services is cost. The Affordable Care Act — the health insurance reform legislation was signed into law on March 23, 2010 — provides access to healthcare for all United States citizens with the goal to make prevention affordable and accessible for all Americans. The Act identifies that women of childbearing age have more health care needs than men, and need preventative health care to stay healthy, avoid or delay the onset of disease, and ultimately, reduce the cost of health care. Latinas also tend to have more health challenges: Largely because of not having the access to preventative care.

Studies have shown that co-pays have served as a deterrent for women to receive routine care that screens for cancer, such as mammograms or pap smears. So we celebrated on August 1, 2011, when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced new guidelines for women’s preventive health care services. One year from now, on August 1, 2012, the guidelines will go into effect for new women’s health services that will support a woman’s ability to plan and time pregnancies, protect her own health, and have healthy babies. Theses new women’s health services include contraception and cover a spectrum of important women’s health concerns.

The new health care reform law will make health care more affordable for women, and will benefit Latino families and communities by requiring insurance companies to cover preventative health care without co-pays or a deductible. The concept behind the Affordable Care Act was for families to have the ability to choose quality and affordable health insurance plans.

Taking the health care conversation to the next step. You may know that in Spring 2011, the Colorado Legislature voted to implement a Health Care Exchange. The first meeting was in July and they will go until 2015. But what people don’t know, don’t understand, or don’t think they have time: This is an open process. Any person can attend the meeting, make comments or ask questions. I think we become complacent, but raise your voice, we all have a stake in the success or failure of the Exchange, especially when women’s reproductive health is regularly facing legal challenges threatening funding, access, and quality and scope of care.

To engage the community, we will be holding a series of cafecitos at COLOR to have conversations about how these changes will affect the community in which we live. The first cafecito will be held Saturday, August 20 from 10:00–12:00 pm at 1029 Santa Fe Drive, Denver. Please call wi­th any questions, 303-393-0382.

Lorena Garcia
Executive Director
Colorado Organization for Latina
Opportunity and Reproductive Health

COLOR Denver