Virginia has become the most recent state to expand Medicaid. Thanks to a few bold Republicans in the state’s legislature, more Virginians will have access to the healthcare they need. As those in the South celebrate, it’s worth remembering Nevada’s monumental healthcare progress since the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) passage.
Approval of the ACA has reached record levels across the country. Nevadans are no exception. The ACA’s careful mix of market-based adjustments resulted in about 20 million people nationwide gaining comprehensive health insurance coverage—from employers, through a functioning and transparent health care marketplace, and with a more robust Medicaid program open to hard-working families in need.
Even those who already had coverage have benefitted. Health plans are doing more to prevent and detect disease, innovating to improve care delivery and patient outcomes, and realizing greater efficiencies.
Minority communities are among those who have benefited most. The uninsured rate for working-age Latino adults fell from 43.2 percent in 2010 to 24.8 percent in 2016, the largest drop of any ethnic group. African-Americans also saw a significant decline, from 27.2 percent to 14.8 percent.
Minority communities experience higher rates and worse outcomes of diabetes, hypertension, HIV, cancer, and other chronic and serious ailments. Offering private health insurance options with guaranteed coverage of essential benefits is critical in driving long-overdue improvements health outcomes.
More people can now get free screenings for a wide variety of medical problems and then obtain the advice, prescription medicines, and other help they need. Additionally, care coordination offered by nearly every health plan is helping individuals navigate the system, so they understand how and where to be seen and don’t simply rely on the emergency room. Assistance is available in multiple languages so that English proficiency is not a prerequisite for health.
Patients are also being actively encouraged to take advantage of preventive care, such as check-ups, stop-smoking programs, and fitness memberships. We can expect longer, healthier lives and lower health care costs as a result.
There remains serious work to be done to lower costs and ensure full coverage. Thankfully, we have made strides in the right direction. As changes to the Affordable Care Act continue to be debated, we must urge our Federal representatives to put Nevada first and fight to secure continued progress.
Yvanna Cancela, State Senator, Nevada’s 10th District