Posted by: Teaway Zehyoue Collins

A new report by six national organizations including the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities presents recommendations for states for successfully implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal health reform law that was signed into law last year by President Obama. ACA will provide quality, affordable health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of currently uninsured individuals and families in Louisiana, especially children. For example, effective January 1, 2014, Medicaid will expand health care coverage to over 400,000 additional uninsured individuals and families in Louisiana; over 300,000 uninsured individuals and families in Louisiana will be eligible for federal financial assistance to help pay for health care coverage; and small businesses will be eligible for federal assistance to offer or maintain health insurance for their employees.

Despite the huge benefits ACA will bring to Louisiana families, the state is one of 25 states in a lawsuit seeking to nullify federal health reform. Nevertheless, Louisiana must proceed with planning for implementing ACA when it becomes fully effective in 2014. Steps that need to be taken include;

  1. Communicating to stakeholder groups such as seniors, small businesses, minorities, people with disabilities, parents of children with special needs, advocacy groups, and the doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other providers who deliver Medicaid services;
  2. Advocacy organizations in Louisiana must build coalitions, develop relationships with policymakers, and coordinate communication and strategies to accurately monitor and provide feedback on implementation efforts; and
  3. National groups involved in health care must work with state advocacy groups to help support and coordinate implementation efforts by analyzing state policy issues and providing information about campaign planning and litigation strategies.

ACA has the potential to improve access to proper and affordable health care to hundreds of thousands of residents in Louisiana, but successfully implementing the law requires overcoming many challenges. As a result, an ongoing effort in support of the ACA by policymakers, advocates, and residents is critical for ACA to become effective in Louisiana.