The Affordable Care Act has done wonders for the residents of Connecticut and like many other residents; Connecticut Latinos have initiatives that address health disparities. One example is the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan for Connecticut that promises to help uninsured, income-earning, HIV positive people obtain health insurance despite having this condition. In 2010, the Affordable Care Act released funds to strengthen Community Health Centers where many people of color seek care.
However, the support of our Connecticut elected officials to ensure that there is a track or process for Community Based organizations (CBOs) to be partners in health care reform leaves room for improvement.
CBOs have unique strengths that include strong reputations in communities, community trust, and specialized skills for reaching very vulnerable populations that are traditionally left out of care. CBO’s serve as brokers between communities of color, the most marginalized sub populations who are in need of care and skilled medical and mental health help.
CBOs are known for developing innovative population specific programming that helps even the most challenged person reach better health outcomes. If healthcare reform moves forward without taking into account the role of CBOs, then our overall system of health loses valuable reach into communities.
What should CBOs advocates advocate for? CBOs should be at the table and should be used to develop and/or improve the health care system. The bottom line is the need to advocate for the meaningful role CBOs play in the lives of people who need but do not use the healthcare system until it is really too late.
This can take the form of becoming a hospitals funded community engagement partner or perhaps a path to self-sustainability and a way to offer services as Medicare/Medicaid providers.
Not having a clear track for CBOs in health reform will ultimately hurt Connecticut residents, particularly Latinos that seek care in the community.
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Image credit by Shawn Calhoun under creative common license