Mike Arieta MSW, LICSW, LMSW
Special to the American Millennium Online
April 8, 2013 was the 17th annual Social Work Day At The Capitol hosted by the Minnesota chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. This was a sold out event for the NASW-MN chapter as there were over 750 Social Work students, faculty and practionares in attendance. This is an event that brings social workers from all over the state of Minnesota to the capitol to draw legislators attention to the needs and challenges faced by the people social workers serve on a daily basis.
Break out sessions were held on legislation that directly impacts child welfare, mental health, health care and homelessness, as well as, a presentation on the current budget and tax bills for the state. This is also a day for the individual social worker to meet with his or her legislator and discuss issues that are important to them and the clients they serve.
Health care was one topic that was of major importance and a session on the Affordable Care Act was well attended. This session did not discuss the components of the Affordable Care Act, but rather went over the pros and cons of the act as a whole.
It was pointed out that the ACA does provide increased funding for community based clinics with the idea that a person could be seen by a primary care doctor in the community without having to go to the emergency room which is more expensive. The ACA also prevents insurance abuses such as restraints on pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps on coverage. It also expands Medicaid to those who work, but do not have insurance through their employer. Some of the draw backs of the ACA as pointed out in the session were that due to co-pays and some premiums people may still not be able to afford the care and the act does not provide for a cap on prices.
Another issue that was raised was that the act expands the same fragmented insurance system that exists now. The problem with the system is that people are limited to staying within a health provider network and may not be able to move outside of that network to seek care when needed. Also, the amount of money being spent on health care administration is still large because people are stuck within networks that are fragmented and care not be streamlined.
The discussion turned to the chance each state has to offer their own health care exchange and improve on some of the drawbacks of the ACA as a whole. Minnesota has a chance with health care reform to offer a system that is less fragmented and more streamlined to offer better care for all. The overall conclusion of the session was that the ACA is not the most ideal plan, but it is a good first step toward providing health care for all and that Minnesota can lead the way in shaping how health care is delivered to all.
Mike Arieta MSW, LICSW, LMSW © 2013