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Price Says Affordability, Access Key To Health Care Reform

January 18, 2017 1:34 p.m.

Price Says Affordability, Access Key To Health Care Reform

GUESTS:

Vernita Todd, senior vice president for external affairs, Health Center Partners of Southern California

Gary Rotto, senior vice president of government and public affairs, Borrego Health

Related Story: Price Says Affordability, Access Key To Health Care Reform

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

It may be a classic -- a classic case of too little too late just as the Republican majority Ms. forward on a plan to repeal the affordable care act and NBC Wall Street Paul finds Obamacare has never been more popular and half of the respondent say they have no faith the GOP can come up with anything better. Health and Human Services not many representatives Tom price said and confirmation hearings today that it was imperative that Americans with health plan state insured.
Nobody is interested in pulling the rug out from under anybody.
They were are preparing as best they can for significant changes. I spoke with Renita Todd senior vice president for external affairs at health central partners and Gary senior vice president of government and public affairs Abrego health.
You are just in DC last week to speak with Republican lawmakers about the affordable care act. What did you learn?
I learned that the process is moving forward but is not as sure as anyone would believe I so we have heard a lot about votes for repeal the first step in that process is moving it toward reconciliation has now indeed happened. What we are now charged with is coming back with an actual planned veterans cost over $1 billion in these communities and that will determine how we move forward with reconciliation or change in parts of the building at the price tag.
Were you there to tell the lawmakers that you met.
I was there to share the importance of the increased access that happened through the Medicaid or Medi-Cal for California population. And in addition to increasing access for those families and we were open for families prior to the affordable care act and we will be here after any changes are made and we will be here with health centers that have faced valid with each of us congressional offices has been dependent on a strong Medicaid system. That has allowed us an increase in access
There isn't any clear front runner or clear policy about what will replace Obamacare. What do you think are the likely features of whatever system comes next?
What I am hearing is that the changes will be along the line of letting the states tomorrow. The concern that we would have that I think they would agree to any other health centers that there is a guarantee for the community health centers and how they are able to participate in California and the Medi-Cal program and that there is a protection for how we get paid and we are fully reimbursed for our cost of doing business which includes all the enabling services that are so important in doing outreach and getting some more people onto Medi-Cal and into a continuity of care.
How has the affordable care act impacted.
When you look at the expansion in 2014 we have doubled the number of patients [Indiscernible] we are able to get them into a patient set up and -- medical home model which is also something that the affordable care act released the health centers to engage in. It provided increased quality and communication.
What about health central partners. Heavy also experienced this kind of increase in people coming in to be able to access healthcare?
It is a voluntary association of 17 private nonprofit health centers one of which is Abrego health. As a consortia where a group of these 17 senators see about hundred 20,000 families in our service area and we have seen pre-ACA and post-ACA about a 20% increase overall in the number of folks that are getting coverage.
What do you think is essential for a replacement plan to have an order for the system to continue to work
There are two things that I think are essential. One is a strong Medicaid are safety net program and I said that because when folks talk about Medicaid or Medi-Cal they say entitlement and it creates a buzzword. When we start talking about the income requirement and understanding that that means and individual making less than 18,000 dollars per year can get some health -- help toward their healthcare are can be providing three -- free access to healthcare. They cannot afford a system that reimburses them it is just another bill that they can't pay. Second are the protections of the law are books that not only got their coverage through Medicaid and the ACA was designed to increase access to care improve benefits and lower costs that was a pre-pronged strategy. Enhanced benefits mean that some very basic things that instruments should cover when paying for the premiums. Those types of protections along with the protections for families are critical as we move forward to those are very popular. Also knowing that caps on annual limits on lifetime limits come into play if you have a serious diagnosis. Without those a process back in the same position we were pre-ACA which was an unsustainable system that did not work. We do not want to go backwards.
The repeal and replacement of Obamacare that the GOP promises in this Congress.
There has been strong support for the affordable care act for the Medi-Cal expansion and adding children that were undocumented into the Medi-Cal program this is recognition that healthcare really is a right rather than a privilege we want to make sure everybody has had Medicare the stronger the supporters for continuing to provide quality care to everybody. Thank you both very much for joining me.