(June 29, 2012) The U.S Supreme Court decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will impact local residents, especially those currently without health insurance, say public health officials.
Twenty percent of the population ages 19 through 64 in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties is currently uninsured, according to Linda Yaroch, Health Officer for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. “When the ACA is fully implemented in 2014, these adults will have health insurance coverage through both public and private health insurance expansion.”
Yaroch adds that improving access to health care has been the Health Department's #1 priority for many years.
“We've seen firsthand what happens to people who are uninsured,” said Bruce Miller, Executive Director of the Northern Health Plan. “They generally do not receive preventive care, suffer in silence when they need treatment, and wait to seek care until their condition is urgent, often at hospitals' emergency departments. This is expensive in both financial and human terms.”
“Improving the health of individuals, families, and communities is not a partisan issue in public health,” Yaroch said. “Access to stable, affordable health care is crucial to our vision and mission. We'll continue to work with a wide variety of community partners who share our goals to make meaningful improvements in the health of individuals, families, and communities.” However, we recognize that other factors also impact health of our residents that the ACA cannot address. Health is not just something that comes from the doctor's office. Community and neighborhood conditions have a significant effect too. That is why we continue to work closely with community partners—hospitals, schools, social service agencies, businesses, and others.”
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, visit www.healthcare.gov/law/features/index.html.