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Health Advocacy and Healthcare Reform
If you know and understand healthcare reform in the United States, please raise your hand and shout “I do!” <<hmm… I hear crickets…>> That’s right. There is no one who understands it, including Kathleen Sebelius (Secretary of Health and Human Services), or Donald Berwick (nominated to lead CMS). It’s too complex, too long and frankly – just plain daunting. But we are healthcare professionals. We make our livings understanding healthcare systems. So if we are confused by the complexity of healthcare reform, just imagine how patients and caregivers feel! Add to that all the changes going on at the state level regarding healthcare, including home care and nursing homes, and what do we have? AN OPPORTUNITY!! You see – politics, belief systems and confusion should make NO difference in how we will move forward with our work as patient advocates, as healthcare reform – the Affordable Care Act – continues to evolve and be implemented. The only difference it should make is that there will be new rights to become familiar with, and those rights will be pro-patient for the most part. Our enhanced opportunities will result from implementation and violations of those rights. Some examples: • Increased rationing will take place – it’s already on the rise. Overcoming rationing as an obstacle to good care is a place a patient advocate can shine. • Medical Homes and ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) will be developed and more of our patients will participate within them. Those relationships present advocates with new markets, perhaps within the Medical Homes or ACOs themselves. • Pre-existing conditions – patients who have suffered these and will now have access to healthcare will need someone to shepherd them through a system they don’t recognize. Further, insurers will continue to look for ways to cut their costs working with patients who have expensive conditions – more rationing – see above. • The evolution and implementation of electronic health records will become problematic for those who are used to paperwork – and for some, particularly the elderly who don’t use the Internet – someone who can help them understand…