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The Affordable Care Act: resources and opportunities to share your voice

Family Voices wishes to help your family stay informed and up-to-date with the progressive
development and provide the newest information regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The gradual implementation of the act is designed in such a way as to stagger the development of programs and services; thus, many provisions of the act are still in development stages. Therefore, it is imperative that families monitor the progress of the implementation and advocate for the needs of their own family as well as all families who will be affected by the legislation.

The first step to effective advocacy is to be informed. The most comprehensive source of information regarding the ACA is www.healthcare.gov. Here, you will find a wealth of information broken down by subject, demographics, states, and other search modifiers. For specific information about the implementation of the act in Indiana, visit the Implementation Center and choose Indiana in the dropdown menu or on the map, or visit this link: http://www.healthcare.gov/center/states/in.html. The Newsroom and Blog menu options are also tools to learn about recent developments that are more specific than those listed on the ACA timeline.

Furthermore, those wishing to learn more about how the ACA impacts Indiana healthcare policies and consumers should visit http://www.in.gov/aca. Here, state-specific policy updates, budget considerations, and data are available to site viewers.

Four federal organizations have been tasked with overseeing the implementation of the provisions and programs of the ACA. Those organizations are: the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO); Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation; Interagency Working Group on Health Care Quality; and the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council. Additionally, Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration has been charged with the implementation of the act insofar as it relates to Indiana state-sponsored services.

The CCIIO, http://cciio.cms.gov/, is primarily responsible for administration and oversight of provisions related to private insurance. These provisions include: ensuring compliance with new insurance market rules, establishing and assisting state reviews of unreasonable insurance rate increases, overseeing the state-based health insurance exchanges, and administering the Consumer Assistance Program, Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program, and Early Retiree Reinsurance Program. The CCIIO site hosts a Request of Information or Comments page at http://cciio.cms.gov/resources/comments/index.html.
Families are encouraged to check back regularly and use your voice to promote positive change.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, http://innovations.cms.gov/, is charged with maintaining and revitalizing public health programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This center focuses on cost and quality improvement measures to sustain and improve these programs. The center encourages you to use your voice by sharing your ideas at http://innovations.cms.gov/partnerships/share-your-ideas/. Ideas for building the center and developing care and payments models are specifically solicited. Here, you are also able to sign up for email updates.

The Interagency Working Group on Health Care Quality, http://www.ahrq.gov/workingforquality/, is a collaboration of officials representing 23 federal agencies, which are tasked with developing health care quality and improvement initiatives. The goal for these agencies is to coordinate federal efforts with the private sector. Comments and questions are not as readily solicited by this group, but they may be submitted here: https://info.ahrq.gov/cgi-bin/ahrq.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php? p_sid=vWNq7Bpk&p_lva=&p_li=&p_accessibility=0&p_redirect=&p_page=1&p_cv=2.95&p_pv=&p_prod s=&p_cats=41%2C95&p_hidden_prods=&cat_lvl1=41&cat_lvl2=95&.

The last of the four federal organizations charged with the implementation of the ACA and development of the provisions therein is the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council. This council focuses on developing federal-level prevention, wellness, and health promotion initiatives. The National Prevention Strategy text is available at http://www.healthcare.gov/center/councils/nphpphc/ strategy/report.html.
The council may be contacted by emailing prevention.council@hhs.gov.

In addition to the national programs overseeing the implementation of the ACA, each state is charged with carrying out various provisions of the act. To that end, local advocacy is essential as provisions will affect state-sponsored and monitored programs as well as possible legislation, state budgets, and state and local taxes. The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration is charged with the statewide implementation of the act. To provide feedback about the act and, specifically, changes occurring in Indiana, family advocates are encouraged to submit questions, concerns and testimonials to feedback@nationalhealthcare.in.gov.

As always, Family Voices will endeavor to provide our audience with the latest updates to health care services and reform and will advocate on behalf of all families of CYSHCN. As numbers increase the strength and force of our voice, we hope you will join us in sharing your family’s voice.

by Emily McKinley, health information specialist

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